From my late summer echtra*:
The river flows, its waters clear; pools deepen on the other side. Are there salmon there, I wonder. Not long ago the river spirits took a young man, a visitor from another country on the other side of the sea. It is hot, and the sun shines fiercely on the river rocks; there is much dust. People drive their pickups and SUVs down onto the beach here, it seems more than in the past. The river keeps moving, quickly, I put my hand in the water—it is cold. It would be refreshing to swim, but I will not. The river has gifted me with inspiration in the past: I make a small offering as a token of gratitude. Somewhere the fish are swimming. There has been neglect in the campground above, a shot out window in the office; the backcountry has been aggrieved by the drug wars. There are old legacies, poverty on the reservation, even if the Forest Service has returned the land. This place holds many secrets, many caches in its dark forest, under its lichen-splattered rocks… A stand of mullein grows on the white rocks of the river strand, heads lifted high. I walk back up the rocky road to my car, pausing by the oak with its golden mistletoe.
The river will keep flowing. I hope the fish will keep coming, I pray so. Eat the fish, place the bones back in the river with a prayer; let them return to the house of the salmon where they sit around their own fires. They may be in human form. Can you see them? catch a glimpse? Or hear their songs?
Somewhere beyond the mists, somewhere deep in the ocean, they weep in their houses, fewer and fewer come back, fewer and fewer come back. Don’t forget they are persons too, persons who hold wisdom in both Celtic and Native American traditions.
An echtra in Gaelic tradition is a tale of an adventure; in modern context, a spiritual journey/ adventure.