Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: River (08/31/06)
TITLE: The Devils Staircase
By Marilyn Schnepp
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It was time to go!
Scooping up Candy Lou, my little four legged companion in one arm, my purse and car keys in the other, I fled...leaving everything I owned to the raging waters of a river out of control, overflowing it's banks, and scarfing up everything in it's path.
This wasn't the first time the Coosa River had come to call. It had overflowed it's banks a couple of years earlier, but the residents had been given enough time to move their mobile homes to higher ground; but this time...the Coosa beat the Warning to the punch.
After the Coosa had finished ravishing the countryside with its flagrant disregard for boundaries, it took its good, old, sweet time retreating back into its own river bed. When I finally did get to return home, everything I owned was either gone, ruined or under six inches of mud. Everything! Clothing, furniture, luggage, typewriter, everything...
So, what does one do? Well, first you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, (in this case "mud yourself off") and get back in the race.
After all, this wasn't my first brush with adversity. I'd been wiped out before by a thief with a gun to my head who took everything I owned - except my life. And that belonged to God! And for some reason God spared it...not only because He loves me, but I believe He has something in mind for me to do.
Looking at the flood from a "rivers point of view", I can empathize with its desire to flow freely. In fact if I were the Coosa, and Man had erected seven dams, not one, two or three dams, but SEVEN dams to alter my natural flow stemming from my birthplace in Rome, Georgia, to the end of the line at the foot of the last cascading Waterfall in Wetumpka, Alabama - I'd also break out of my banks, bed and bonds to show Man my displeasure at being forcibly altered and detoured from my natural course.
Wetumpka, the indian word for "falling stream", is where I lived, and it lies at the foot of the last cascading waterfall where the Coosa River comes to an end. This waterfall is called the "Devils Staircase".
I finally left Wetumpka to begin a new job farther upstate. The day before we left Candy and I walked down to the river for the last time. Candy sniffed around looking for wildlife habitats while I stood on the bank of the Coosa overlooking the now peaceful and tranquil river. I watched it drift and flow lazily downstream, unaware that just around the next bend it would meet its Waterloo, cascade down the Devils Staircase, swirl into oblivion in the rocks below...and be no more.
Believe it or not, I suddenly felt a pang of sorrow, and yes, guilt - for even though it had been an uninvited guest to my home twice, my fellowman had curtailed its free flow with their dams, dumped it full of garbage and debris, and yet it still faithfully fulfills it's God given job on planet Earth...wending it's way through the land, giving fish a home, plants, trees and wildlife water, and people a more bountiful way of life.
Rivers have been called both a blessing and a curse. But I've often wondered; if the river wasn't altered by Man, was allowed to flow freely, would it still be considered a curse?
Plucking a blossom off a nearby tree, I tossed it into the peaceful waters of the Coosa River below, bid it a silent <i>"farewell"</i>...then turned and slowly walked away towards a new beginning.
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