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Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean

Few people truly know when it will be their last opportunity for an experience. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I do know. As I sit here on the banks of the Columbia, I know that it will be one of my last times viewing this majestic beauty.

The autumn months are perfect for viewing the gem of the ocean in her finest. The ever-changing trees leave colored images on her face, and the crisp winds bring a new life to her banks. Her mirrored surface sparkles in the sunset. As the last rays of the sun fall upon her shining face, a soft glow appears all around. She looks as though she were a clean and perfect gem. Her riverbed is the velvet used to display her beauty, and she sticks out as though having just been purchased from the finest jewelry store. It truly is an overwhelming sight.

Although her surface is often even and unblemished, during the summer it is hardly smooth at all. The waters are very choppy most days due to the number of young, agile folks who love to water-ski, wakeboard, and race speedboats on her surface. Seeing as she winds through the state of Washington and serves as one of the borderlines for Oregon and Washington, she gets plenty of unrest and disruption during the summer months. There is a common cacophony and overall feeling of chaos.
Gentle splashing can be heard as a small family of ducks swims into view. As one walks along the pathway near the shore, an island can be seen. An island that is covered in desert shrubbery pokes out from the water, and the occasional flock of waterfowl can be seen nesting there. If one continues to walk further along the path, oddly shaped piles of wood can be found near the banks. The owners of these small dams are rarely seen; one can catch a small glimpse if they happen to see ripples in the water, followed by a thick tail and a startling splash.

I head down to the small docks on the sides of the river. As I do, I recall the times where my sweet, concerned mother was wary to let us run down to the edge on our own. She had good reason to be. The docks leading out into the waters are wooden and wobbly. Their green spires stick up from the bottom of the river in plain sight of any speedboat or jet-ski. Careful mothers can always be seen calling their precious children away from the edge of the wood, and lovers often come down to dip their toes in the chilly water together.

Rain or shine, one of the most consistent traits of the Columbia is her freezing waters. Even in the warmest summers, she has an icy touch that chills you to the bone. Although this is true, there are always those brave few who would swim in the semi-Arctic waters. Many people often bring their pooches to fetch for small, lemon-lime tennis balls in the torturous waters, and while I do not know for sure, I am assuming that the dogs do not seem to mind, seeing as they repeatedly dive into the water with beastly smirks on their faces.

I smile as I recall the many times I have come to this majestic river for various activities: company picnics, family gatherings, church get-togethers, and “just for fun” breaks from the daily grind with my parents and siblings. This beautiful scenery is the perfect location for memories to be made. Not only is the river kept clean and beautiful, but there is also a park nearby that has a fascinating playground surrounded by large trees carved with faces. This attracts children of all ages, from one to ninety-nine.

The beautiful river is amazing and it has brought so many memories and so much joy to my life. As I sit here on a stiff, green park bench, I reflect on all that I will remember about this place: the small animals that thrive in the water, the dangerous docks that make every child feel adventurous, rambunctious afternoons in choppy, freezing waters, and quiet moments where the river perfectly mirrors the azure sky. And even though I am leaving, I will always keep her in mind. Goodbye, my beautiful gem, my sweet Columbia. I will miss you.





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