The spring storms were often fierce, and the snowmelt floods wreaked havoc as the water cried over the dam and down the canyon, giving life and occasionally tearing it asunder,
Bear lived in the trunk of an old tree with his woman Marta and their baby girl Kali, who would play in the sand, building castles and eating government cheese, which they’d acquire in town each Friday, driving the big van with black windows.
Marijuana and whisky were the currency of the community, along with young fuckable women and strong men who could chop wood and build things, all willing participants, all mercenaries in Bear’s Army.
The rafters would arrive in July, when the flow dropped, drifting by in golden pontoons, mouths agape at the nakedness and scent of hemp. Cover your eyes said the parents, and the children would, but they’d peek through their fingers and smile as their insides turned warm.
A couple stopped at the camp one day, and stayed the night, not wanting to leave the love of the group, afraid they would never find it again. The woman came back a month later, all alone, with a red tent and $400 in her pocket, which she gave to Bear as a tithe.
The anglers would show up in August, as the flow dropped further. The pools turned still, giving up the shiny trout that fought like tigers, fought for their lives only to end up in a pan, and then a belly.
By mid-September the nights would cool, and by the end of the month, frost would settle over the camp each morning, reminding everyone it was time to move on.
Three months later, the river was completely alone with herself once more. The current flowed downstream, and she relished the quiet.