Friday, July 3, 2015

Finding Zen Near Canada

Love, Leaves & a Waxwing
Zen Like a River
Never Stop Seeking
Go With the Flow
Birds in the River
Ripples Feel Good!
A Happy, Unleashed Grenny Seeking River Zen
The Right Kind of Pit
Blackened-Cajun Pork Chops, Served River Side
Flock of Cedar Waxwings Seeking River Zen
Yellow Tail Tip, Red Wing Dots 7 Black Mask
Settling in to Watch the River Flow
Research & Dinner Along the Moyie
Hungry Fly-Fisherman
Flight of the Waxwing on the Moyie River
I have found my zen.

Between Elmira Pond and Eastport Border Crossing into British Columbia, Canada is a 92-mile tributary of the Kootenai (in the US)/Kootenay (in Canada) River. The Moyie River behaves as one would think it should -- it flows south out of Moyie Lake in Canada into the northern US.

The Moyie River enters the Kootenai River a few miles east of Bonners Ferry, Idaho becoming part of a Pacific Ocean watershed that is anything but typical. Named for the Kootenay Range of British Columbia, the Kootenay winds south out of Canada and into Montana just northwest of Glacier National Park. In the US, it's called the Kootenai because, well, we don't use the metric system or British Standard English, and tomorrow is independence day and I suppose we have to exert our independence through contentious spelling.

It's one river with two names spelled differently.

If that's not goofy enough, the river itself decides to veer course and reenter Canada and regain its original spelling. By this time, the Moyie has joined forces and returns to its native country, too. The Kootenai...pardon...the Kootenay then winds southwest and flows into the largest river to feed the Pacific Ocean -- the Columbia.

No wonder early explorers, including Dave Thompson, gave up ever finding the mythical western sea -- the rivers in this region flow up and down the glacially scoured valleys of the Northern Rockies for hundreds of miles with nary a hint of westward direction . The Kootenai Tribe...Ktunaxa, wonder spelling is an issue...were the first to not care which way the rivers flowed and just went with the flow, living and fishing in isolation for hundreds of years.

I'm fairly certain the Ktunaxa found their zen here, too.

It's been so blasted hot that I've had to escape Elmira Pond, returning by cooler evening to water my gardens. Gone are the luxurious mornings I spent outside weeding, digging dirt and watching birds. I've felt lost having to leave my home by day. It disrupts my routines, interferes with my writing flow and leaves me feeling disconnected.

Until I found the Moyie River. When Todd announced that we'd go fly-fish the Moyie again, I jumped into action. I finished my online tasks, wrapped up my client project for the week, put on my swim trunks and tee-shirt, grabbed my research for my current WIP, packed a picnic meal and loaded up dog tie-outs, a duct taped camping chair, briquettes, mosquito repellant, camera and a change of clothes.

I was ready in five minutes, surprising the Hub who normally complains of me taking forever. I wanted to return to the Moyie, but I was also in a camping mood. And day-camped we did.

In Bonners Ferry we bought cherries (not as good as the Peach Man's) and cold Mike's Strawberry Lemonade. We knew which roads to take by this time and quickly arrived at Meadow Creek Campground, a US Forest Service spot with 21 campsites on the Moyie River. We found only three sites open (being Thursday prior to the big Fourth of July weekend) and we claimed a forested site on the river.

Todd fussed with his stoneflies, line and reel while I unloaded, set up and paid $6 in a drop box for the campsite. I staked out the dogs, much to their dismay, and to look at my rented piece of the Moyie River. There, beneath gurgling waters that I had photographed the weekend before, I found a broad, flat rock that fit my bottom and down I sat in the water.

Currents pushed around me and I extended both legs finding a comfortable position that allowed me to become one with the flow. Water rippled over my submerged knees and tops of toes as if I had become part of the river. It wasn't cold, just barely cool. I sat watching the Moyie River, drinking a cold Mike's with the afternoon sun dappling my hair and back through the pine boughs.

I found my zen in the Moyie River.

All afternoon, I rotated from campground table-cum-desk to river (with dogs on leashes). Every time I sat I felt peace. This definitely beats the heat! Even the initially gruff camp host didn't dampen my day. He dropped in like someone walking into your house. I felt like saying, "Knock on a tree first, buddy!"

He eyed my dogs and I was glad I had them on leashes per campground rules. He said he was confused about my date of departure. I explained that we were local and just here for the day. He informed me this was a campground, not a day use center. I argued back that I paid for my campsite and nothing in the rules said there was a minimum time for daily use. He shrugged and said, "Guess not!"

He turned friendly after that, discussed western history with me, patted both dogs and told me I could let them run loose. I pointed out Grendel's scars and neck punctures and said the dog had a bad rap with bears. That's when the camp host told me there were no bears in this area! Oh, I love the Moyie River! The Pack River can keep its grizzlies; I'll sit here all summer.

The only downside was that my fearless fly-fisherman returned to say it was too hot and he didn't want to stress the fish. We only catch-and-release trout so we care about their ability to recover from being caught. I invited Todd to my personal place of zen and we sat in the Moyie with the dogs.

Though we paid for the campsite, Todd wanted to fish further upstream as it cooled off and we both decided that the Moyie Crossing picnic site would be a better place to barbeque because we could use briquettes instead of having to build a campfire. I will definitely return to my place of zen and gladly pay $6 to sit in the river again. Next time we could bring the tent.

We finished our evening at Moyie Crossing and I found the look of zen reflected in Grendel who finally got to run off leash and play in the river. We were all entertained by Cedar Waxwings who live  their zen getting tipsy on ripe fruit and watching the Moyie flow from old bridge pilings. This time we sprayed against mosquitoes and dined on blackened-Cajun pork chops and cherries without donating blood to the buzzing pests.

It's never too hot, too late or too unusual to find your own zen.


  1. What a beautiful spot. No wonder you found your zen - and at just the time you needed it most. When you close your eyes and imagine, you can go there any time you like to relax, cool, and breathe. :)

  2. A more perfect zen for you right now I can't imagine Charli...divine, calming, peaceful, everything you need right now...