Thursday, October 30, 2008

Walking along the river - a story idea strikes

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - A walk out the back door (ok, the only door) of my house into the neighborhood to take a stretch, reminded me that stories don't have to be dug up, sometimes they are right in front of your face.

I walked a half-mile to the Sacramento River, which looks ever-so placid these days (at least until the rain arrives this weekend), and while watching a ski boat glide across the water, spotted a river dweller, neatly hidden right at the water's edge.

Home along the river
A blue tarp to keep out the weather, a bicycle for transportation

Whoever is living underneath the tarp is also living below the radar of most of Sacramento. From time to time, the police raid along the river, chasing out people they call 'transients.' I say call transients, because there are some folks among these river dwellers who are there by choice, living as free as is possible in the USSA, way beyond credit checks, snooping landlords, police and the ever-present TSA.

This person - or persons - chose their spot well, as it's necessary to stand up on top of a concrete abutment to even see that there is a tarp and bicycle below.

My writer-hero, American author Jack London, rode the rails of freight trains once, doing a chronicle of the lives of the men - and a handful of women - who took to the road at the turn of the 20th century. They did so mostly because of tough economic times, but some just to escape from, well, whatever haunted them.

The River People.

Hmmm.... now there's an idea for a literary journalism piece.