2015-03-12 / Opinions

Lucky are those who see the Chattahoochee in all its glory

By LORAN SMITH
columnist

ATLANTA – Those, who live on Atlanta’s Northside and within arms-length of Georgia’s most romantic river, the Chattahoochee, whose banks were once a playground for native Americans, are treated with a daily view that makes one suggest that their lives should be prolonged with this geographical privilege.

The trees are stark and gray now but soon will be budding and flowering into a canopy of green which will stand sentry to the Chattahoochee’s flowing waters, headed toward the Gulf of Mexico. Down there, life is not as serene and peaceful, regarding the Chattahoochee, as it is in North Fulton County. Many in those parts think Atlanta’s gulp from the Chattahoochee is way too generous. (A disclaimer is in order as we go forward. You are not hearing from a historian, but one who thinks that the fuss about oil wells going dry will pale if water were to run out.)

In the meantime, the Chattahoochee can be enjoyed from numerous vantage points in the Northern half of the state from fly fishing at Helen (and beyond) to canoeing where the river flows past Roswell. Staying with friends Don and Barb ara Hem- rick, who live a little more than a stone’s throw from Lovett School, I see the river in all its splendor with the change of seasons. The one exercise I need to get around to more often is fly fishing for a rainbow in the Chattahoochee where Scarlett O’Hara may well have skinny dipped.

Weekend mornings, when I am a guest of friends, allow for a leisurely rising – no matter the season. Usually, I am up when darkness prevails. Even so there is the beauty of the moonlight glistening off the river. The peacefulness that calms the soul when you sip your decaf with the Chattahoochee sliding by in the moonlight is a tonic that inspires a toast of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. It is at these times, I refuse to start my day with the morning paper. The headlines, which reveal hurt, hate, and gnashing of teeth around the world are never allowed to ruin my reflective time in the company of the river. Here’s to the Chattahoochee, balm for the soul.

As I finish my coffee, my mind’s eye has an enjoyable flashback to the times I have stood in the Chattahoochee, an hour or so North, and fought a big rainbow with my friend Jimmy Harris. The sounds of the river are so refreshing and uplifting. The current pressing against your waders makes you wish you could drop everything and let it magically take you to the Apalachicola in the Florida panhandle. A three-pound rainbow grabs your San Juan worm and snatches you out of your daydreaming. Bringing him into the net takes priority in your mind at that point.

Those flashbacks usually give you inspiration when you arise in the company of the Chattahoochee. As daylight stealthily emerges, without haste or hassle, you open your computer and begin the day inspired and in a tranquil mood.

Down by the track at Lovett School, Canada geese, lumbering in flight and honking cacophonously, give character to the river, but remain a menace. Canada geese, like pigeons at St. Marks in Venice, have no manners. They leave their droppings anywhere and everywhere. I do like having the geese around, however.

As I take my designated laps around the track, I listen to the waters of the Chattahoochee as they go their merry way, trumping the guttural offerings of the geese and become fixated on the statue of the Lovett mascot, the lion. He’s fake, but I think of what he represents. Lions are noble whether they are ushering you, in stone, into a museum; giving you pause when they are documented on the Smithsonian Channel or confirming the movie you are about to see is brought to you by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer.

A cup of coffee at daybreak on the Chattahoochee, a walk by its waters with Canada geese honking overhead, and reminiscing by the statue of a noble African beast – no better way to start your day. It, too, is a reminder that life in the city can be a good thing.

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