Magothy

I am not just from here.

I am of here. 

This dark river with the strange name. Not a crystal clear mountain stream, but a saltwater tributary that runs in its own sweet time into the Chesapeake and eventually, many miles away, into the Atlantic.

Back up here, it is a lazy and thick body of slow-moving green water. It is pungent of salt, seagrass and rainbows of marine gas and motor oil.

Back up in the swamps and coves, the smell is stronger.

Deeper. Primal, almost sexual, filled with the decaying shells left behind by molting blue crabs, abandoned bait boxes and fish caught unaware by slackening tides.

The people of here are deeper as well. Primal. Almost sexual.

This is their river.

They are conservative folk, by and large, but, red or blue, they do not have much truck with political correctness on the water. The beer-bellied skipper of a rebel flag flying bass boat is just as quick to tell you to clean your mess from the shoreline as the Docksider wearing captain of a sailboat in from Annapolis.

They may not agree on much else, but they agree on the river.

On Independence Day the skies above the river were ablaze with fireworks from nearly every house along the bank. Much closer, much brighter, much longer and much louder than the planned displays in Baltimore or Annapolis, and even more exciting for the illegality of every burst.

This is our river. Laws be damned...

There are legends here. Lovingly told, all lies...

The story of the hapless boy that gathered worms from the river bank for a day of fishing, only to discover...the hard way...that they were baby snakes. The story holds that his bloated, bitten body was discovered just a few yards from where ever one is standing on the riverbank. Strangely, no one can ever recall the boy's name or from which small house along the river he might have hailed.

Then there was the man that purchased some bloodworms from the local bait shop and set out in his boat with a six of Natty Boh to float fish the cove on a hot August day. The beer, heat and slow fishing conspired to encourage the angler to take a nap in his boat...as one does. The fisherman awoke to find his bloodworms attached to his face...

...or so I've heard.

I am only fully at peace when I am back out on this water.

As a boy, I walked for miles in old canvas tennis shoes, calf-deep in the briny water with a basket floating in an old inner tube tied to a belt loop on my cutoffs, using a long-handled net to check behind pilings, under logs and rocks and whatever else was submerged in the swamp, searching for the places where a crab was hiding so it could shed its skin.

A soft-shell crab, fresh caught, dusted with flour and fried in butter is the best meal in the world, hands down.

For all of my academic delusions and European pretensions, I am a river rat. As a teenager, I had girlfriends wrinkle their noses at the sight of my muddy sneakers and the smell of the river on my skin.

They didn't last long.

I have been many years away. I have fished, swam, surfed and seen other places, some far grander, not one better.

When ever I come home and walk down to the old cove near the house I grew up in, I know right away where I belong. I know the tides, the smell, the rhythm...there is no catching up needed. I no more need to remember how to run this river than I need to remember how to breathe.

I have friends that rode as cowboys in Wyoming, that walked rice paddies and that learned to ski powder when they were three.

Me, I was molded out of this river mud.

I am of here... 

 

"Ray Weaver has the rare ability to transform life into stories and songs that are intensely personal, yet still touch a universal chord."

Someone once wrote that about me. I hope it's true. People do seem to like my stories and songs and I've had them published as part of the Rocking Chair Reader series created by Adams Media and in various magazines and newspapers. I also sing the songs and tell the stories in a live concert version. My first ebook, "A Father's Heart", collects the stories and songs into a multimedia package. 

This blog will contain some of those stories and whatever else might suit my fancy. 

Thanks for your valuable time, Ray

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