Saturday, December 16, 2006

The River Junk Game

In Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck describes the joy of seasonal river rises. All manner of things come floating down the river with the rise of the waters. A June rise is what provided him with the canoe and raft he spent most of his journey on.

Like Huck, I've long been a river rat myself. My teenage years were spent growing up in Cincinnati and quite a bit of my time during those years were spent along the banks of the Ohio River. When you have little money, you can't afford better entertainment than strolling through Sawyer Point. During these walks I'd find plenty of garbage washed up along the shoreline, but also bigger, weirder things -- I once encountered a complete toilet bowl.

Naturally when you encounter a toilet bowl sitting mysteriously at the edge of the river, you wonder how it got there. I've wondered about many things like that. For example, the six-foot octopus that we mentioned someone finding in the Ohio River in August. Octopuses are salt water creatures, so it's likely someone dumped it in there after it died, rather than it having lived in the Ohio. What the heck led to the dumping of a six-foot octopus in the river?

I call it the River Junk Game. It's great for the kids if you can keep them from actually touching the junk. The way the game goes is this: You put on some mud boots and go walking along the river bank looking at all the things that have washed up. It can be a big thing or a little thing, but the idea is to imagine where the thing came from, and what caused it to be there. It can be as simple as a Coke can -- some guy in Pittsburgh was drinking the Coke at Triangle Park when he was startled and the can fell in the river. You can keep it as simple or as elaborate as you want. If in a group, you can even award points or vote on whose story was the best.

The story behind the toilet bowl might take more imagining than you'd care to do. P.S. Still never figured that one out.

posted at 5:01 PM by Jeremy Parnell