"Never Forget Where You Came From"

 

The photos are of a fine River Tooth, and of me in my former guide life on the Quinault and Queets rivers. If you have not experienced one before, a River Tooth is the remains of a great tree taken by a powerful river.

It takes years, maybe decades to shape the old branch knot from a great tree. Once the tree becomes a part of the river, the water shapes and molds the tree. The mighty Quinault River, in this case, worked away at this tree until it bared its dense, pitch-filled teeth. The tree is gone, but its strength pervades as a single tooth like this one in the photo.

Months ago now, my friend sent me a package that contained a white puffy coat, a letter, and this river tooth. He made the placard with the inscription "Never Forget Where You Came From", a perfect metaphor because the river that shaped this tooth also shaped me. It worked on me for years--stripping away old versions of me and preparing me. The river revealed my strength, persistence, it shaped and refined my purpose.

I couldn't share this gift for months. It was too personal. I miss home too much, and am away because I need to get this damn doctorate degree.

Once I have it I can return home to my rivers, bare my own teeth, and protect them fiercely. I'd be doing precisely what these waters shaped me to do.

Thanks for this gift, Bill Herzog. Let's walk the river together soon.