Five Things My Three Year Old Reminded Me About Rivers


August fishing on North Umpqua River, OR

August fishing on North Umpqua River, OR | Amy Kober

Our family spends a lot of time on Oregon’s North Umpqua River. My husband John fishes there. It was the first river we visited with our son, when he was only three weeks old. And now that August is three years old, we love to camp and hike there. We were on the Umpqua this past weekend, and it was great seeing the river through his eyes. 

Here’s what he reminded me about rivers – good lessons for adults and kids alike:

You don’t need fancy, expensive gear – Do you have a pair of rubber boots? Do you have a Scooby-Doo plastic bucket? Can you find a good stick? That’s really all you need.

Choose one spot – I wanted to hike the North Umpqua trail and see a lot of the river. But August was happy to hang out on the first little beach. It had everything – rocks to climb, sand to dig, water to splash, bugs to find, kingfishers to hear, grass to hide in – so why leave? We probably saw and enjoyed more of the river because we stayed put.

Catching fish is a big deal – John came back early from fishing because one of the tires on our car was leaking air. August asked if he caught any fish. “No, I didn’t buddy.”  August threw himself on the floor, buried his head in his hands and started crying. John and I looked at each other, surprised, wondering if he had suddenly hurt himself? Or…?  But no, he was just seriously bummed that papa hadn’t caught a fish.

On a river, anything is possible – Did you know that dragons live on the North Umpqua? And so do all the characters from Charlotte’s Web? And that steelhead talk, and Santa’s reindeer stop here for a drink? It’s true. If you don’t believe it, come see for yourself.

You’re guaranteed to find treasure – On Sunday we hung out on Steamboat Creek, walking along the bank, climbing rocks and splashing in backwater bedrock puddles. The creek offered up gift after gift. First it was a beautiful green stone. Then, after a while August picked up something else. I asked him what it was. “A treasure,” he said, showing me the mussel shell. Then, on a beach, we found a bird claw. And then, hiking back, we found a blue bungee cord tangled in the weeds – such interesting stuff for a three year old.

For me, the biggest treasure was time – no obligations, nowhere else to be, just this day, this creek, the bright gold maple leaves, my little boy, and time together.