The Stillwater River, MT

April-May 2013 040

Standing beside the crashing river, I could feel the water pound throughout my whole body, landing in my heart. Deep in the water I could hear the pow wow drums beating the song.

The far side of the river was the shallower side. Boulders of various sizes made the water dance and slide in a way that carried my troubles and fears away – far down the mountain.

The near side was deeper, for no rocks showed. Rather than dance and slide, the water took one great dip, then rose like an ocean wave. The crest boiled over into a curve facing upriver. It dared the adventurous surfer to challenge it. The water then rushed on to the next wave and the next, splashing water to the sky.

Watching the water rise into that huge wave, my stomach tickled – like riding a roller coaster…the excitement continued building and building till I had to look away just to recover.

The power of the river gives me strength. It clears my soul.

In John Denver’s song To The Wild Country he sings about Alaska, but his words ring true for every wild country and every person it touches. The chorus goes like this:

To the mountains, I can rest there.

To the rivers, I will be strong.

To the forest, I’ll find peace there.

To the wild country, where I belong.


The land has so much to give.

We must respect it. We need to care for it. We should enjoy it.

Nevertheless, it is vital that it speak to us – that it touch us.

We should not always be the subject of the sentence – the initiator of the action.

We are not complete until we have received from the land.

I came to this conclusion recently on my own, after years of being in nature and after many discussions with others who are not attuned to the wild. Then just the other day I was reading some Native American writings and was astounded at what I found.

The Arapaho have a proverb that says “All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them.”

The Huron say, “Listen to the voice of nature, for it holds treasures for you.”

We have much we can learn from the Native Americans (and from the wild) if we are willing.

If you are ever in southern Montana, stop and listen to the Stillwater River.

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