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Just Me and the River, an essay by Christine Price

I stand on top of the Sea Ray, preparing to take the first frigid plunge of the season. I can feel my heart racing in my chest, adrenaline coursing through my veins. A screech escapes me as I propel myself forward. Within seconds I am consumed by the water, swallowed into the threshold of sensation.

Sinking beneath the surface, I have never felt more alive. It is as though I have infringed upon a secret as I float, suspended in the vast escape of a world filled with exotic life forms and precious species. When I invade this world, cradled in its arms, I am content. I desire to simply hold my breath and remain there for as long as I can until my lungs scream for air. In that moment I am alone. It is just me and the river.

When I am on the water I find a sense of peace and comfort. There is something about the river that transports me far from the strains of reality and the pressure of growing up. Sitting under the fading blue sky, beneath the last rays of sunlight, I find it easy to lose track of time. Everything is forgotten in that moment when the sun is hovering above the horizon, illuminating a path across the water as though a million fireflies gathered, glimmering. Even on the days when grayish shapes advance, threatening to close the curtain early on the day, there is an inherent beauty to be found as the rain strikes the surface.


A river is never still; it is a canvas for every stroke of the wind and rotation of a propeller. Gazing across the St. Lawrence River I am reminded of the many memories that are painted and etched into every ripple and swell of the current since I was born. I do not measure my life in the trivial succession of years, but through the months of summer.

The river has seen me through many stages of my life from my first strokes in the water with a life jacket on, to conquering the doggie paddle, and finally being able to swim. It is where I have matured and blossomed alongside my family. When I am on the water surrounded by loved ones I find a sense of solace. The river serves as a reminder of the times spent together, and the laughs and smiles we have shared. It is the essence of my childhood.

My love for the St. Lawrence River stems from the seventeen summers of memories that I have accumulated since I was a little girl. As time goes on I believe that although I may wander, I will find my way back. The river is where my heart lies, and I hope that it has become a reflection of who I am as a person. As Lynn Noel wisely said, “The first river you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you who you are.” The water is my fingerprint, my identity. It is the very liquid that runs through my veins.

I will always be a river rat.

By Christine Price

Christine Prince is seventeen years old and currently a senior at Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Manlius, NY. She has a twin sister and an older brother. They live  in Manlius but summer in Clayton, NY. Christine says, “My parents retired several years ago, so we are able to spend our entire summers in Clayton. We have made wonderful memories over the years, and I can think of no other place I would rather be. That is why I decided to write my college essay about how meaningful the St. Lawrence River is to me.”

Posted in: People
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Todd Jones
Comment by: Todd Jones
Left at: 9:34 PM Monday, December 14, 2015
The river claims some. Beautiful essay.
Bob Belcher
Comment by: Bob Belcher
Left at: 6:35 PM Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What a wonderful picture you paint for an old "river rat". Your words brought back floods of memories I still hold ear and will cherish for the balance of my life. Of springs first jumps into the icy St Lawrence, cool star filled and lighting bug nights.

The sound of rain on our boathouse roofs and the squeals of first timers jumping into the river from the end of the dock....bull heading, duck hunts, May Pike, June bass.

Thanks for sharing, I think you will always be a "rat"

Hope to meet you and your family in Clayton over the summer.

Bob Belcher - Kentucky in residence, River dweller in mind and heart.
Keith June
Comment by: Keith June
Left at: 6:37 PM Tuesday, December 15, 2015
As a teenager, I have very fond memories burned into my heart of the River too. My Aunt and Uncle spent the summers on the River at their River home by Linda Island and I spent many of day fishing, swimming the hot summer days away. I will always remember my Uncle Ray taking me Muskie fishing.
Sarah Baldwin
Comment by: Sarah Baldwin
Left at: 9:50 PM Tuesday, December 15, 2015
What a wonderful river tale you've told; in the tradition of the WInd in the WIllows "...while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.” Thanks for sharing!
Doug Tulloch
Comment by: Doug Tulloch
Left at: 12:43 PM Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Christine, Thank you!! You get it. If it's in you, it always will be. The river flows through my veins just as blood does to sustain me. I left once but that never worked for me... being too far from IT. What a treat it is to see how I feel put down in words by you. Yes you are, a river rat. Again, Thanks for a wonderful essay. Doug
samantha sakran
Comment by: samantha sakran
Left at: 2:42 PM Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Christine, tbis essay is literally perfect. My family also has a summer home in clayton. What you wrote here is everything i feel when im on the river. Simply amazing. Thank you for this. We are so lucky to have been raised river rats.
Comment by: pam,
Left at: 3:01 PM Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Wonderful story !! Thankyou
Comment by: Jackie
Left at: 6:09 AM Thursday, December 17, 2015
What a beautiful essay. I grew up in the Thousand Island and moved from there over 20 years ago to Pennsylvania. I try to bring my daughters up there every summer, for them to experience the majestic river. It is truly a hidden treasure that many are not aware of. Thank you.
Brian Johnson
Comment by: Brian Johnson
Left at: 1:44 PM Friday, December 18, 2015
Christine, your future as a writer is set in 'granite stone' like the foundation of the islands! Very enjoyable to read!! Please continue!

Brian Johnson
Comment by: Eve
Left at: 3:01 PM Friday, December 18, 2015
Christine, I don't think I could have said it better than either you or Doug. In it and on it for over 50 years. There is no place better in this world.
Comment by: Kathy
Left at: 8:11 AM Saturday, December 19, 2015
You speak to the hearts of many river rats. I grew up in and on the river and live just a few miles from it now. It is my escape and comfort through good times and bad. It runs through my veins and cleanses my soul.
Patricia Corbett Conole
Comment by: Patricia Corbett Conole
Left at: 11:05 AM Wednesday, January 20, 2016
You are a very beautiful writer! Although I have never lived on the river, I feel the cold, refreshing water in my veins too after reading your article!
Pat Conole