A river slants across Boise in southern Idaho. To the northeast are mountains; to the southwest are high desert plains. Both areas were contorted by geologic forces–one region rose to the occasion as the other flattened. Water did the rest of the carving.
Water. Out west it is a precious commodity that spurs modern range wars. Special interest groups solicit favor for wild mustangs, endangered cui-ui fish, cattle grazing rights, farm irrigation, salmon spawns and big city hydration and sewage.
Precipitation is crazy sporadic out west, much like the crazy terrain. Within the borders of Idaho, Sandpoint in the north averages 34 inches of rainfall a year whereas Boise in the south averages 11 inches. North, the grass is tall, choked with daisies and looks soft as a horse’s muzzle. South, it’s as crisp as crackers.
Water makes a difference, yet the lack of rainfall or snow pack in one region doesn’t mean there’s a lack of water; just water distribution. One of the largest rivers, the Snake, winds in a curve like that of a Lazy C cattle brand, cupping the south region in a vast high desert. Smaller rivers up north cascade through conifers that tower over 70 feet tall.
Both areas are equal in distance from the Pacific Ocean, but weather patterns funnel differently. There are days that the sky in Boise is like a blue parched bone. And there are days in Elmira (north of Sandpoint) that the Pacific Ocean seems to crash over the peaks of the Selkirks like a sky-turned-heaving-ocean.
Driving home from Boise to Elmira, the Hub fondly gazes at brilliant patches of green growing atop desert ground. He grew up in Nevada, the great high desert basin and range country of the US. He knows that deserts grow the best alfalfa, onions and cantaloupes. He’d love to farm a flat swath of desert. All it takes is water.
We follow the Lower Salmon River as it flows north. In some draws, meadows and forests hug the slopes and in other draws, brown grass barely covers exposed rock. Yet we follow the same river. And it’s hot. We pull over at a cement block toilet encircled by cement picnic tables. Cottonwood trees and a few pines offer shade.
I’m looking for water. Following a paved trail I come to the edge of the Salmon River where deep blue water eddies into swirling patterns. I roll up my pants, keep my Keens on my feet (after all, they’re water shoes) and wade into the cool river, feeling the tug of its current.
Water. Sweet water from the well quenches my thirst. Hot water from the tap washes away the stress of a long day. Streams, creeks and lakes with sandy bottoms beckon for my feet or even a swim. The soft swish of a fly-line is zen-like, fishing for salmon or trout. Hooded mergansers glide upon the waters of Elmira Pond. Is there any greater daily luxury in my life than that of water?
From the depths of the Salmon River I’ve found the weekly prompt.
July 9, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write story about water. What significance does water have to the story, the setting or character (s)? How is water evocative or manipulated? What river flows through your imagination? Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, July 15 to be included in the compilation.
Tolo Lake Graveyard by Charli Mills
One Saturday morning local volunteers gathered around the small mud flat littered with dead branches. The local Chamber had donated coffee.
“Listen up,” called out the state biologist. “We’ve drained water from Tolo and with your help we’ll begin mucking out the bottom to improve fishing.”
“Damn snags,” said a Grangeville farmer, swishing the last of his coffee. “I’m gonna find those Castmasters.” He walked over to the largest branch, wiping away black mud, recognizing a bone. All the branches were bone.
Tolo Lake, a small water artesian in the middle of farmland, was a mass graveyard of mammoths.
Rules of Play:
- New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
- Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
- Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
- Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
- If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
- Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
- Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
- Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
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