It’s true, Arizona is not really known for its rivers, especially here in the south. We have the mighty Colorado, which still qualifies as mighty in certain seasons, up in the Grand Canyon and cutting along our western border. That is certainly our biggest claim to fame, and our tourism export. There is also the Salt River, which winds its way out of the White Mountains and provides Phoenicians with some hot-weather relief as they tube down its length. But by the time it reaches Phoenix proper, it’s pretty slim pickins. As a general rule, rivers and creeks in AZ are more riverbed than river.
I was thinking about none of this when I chose the name.
I was thinking of a metaphoric river, and of the idea of “riding the river,” (see what I did there?). The river represents boundaries, movement and journeys, but also the quality of people one wants to accompany them on such journeys. There is an old saying that someone “will do to ride the river with.” This phrase is used to compliment someone by saying they were of good stock, reliable and dependable. I believe this phrase began with the Texas Border Patrol, who quite literally rides along the Rio Grande as it marks the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico, and the phrase was popularized by the famous Border Patrolman Bill Jordan in his book, No Second Place Winner (see below) . For men like Jordan, men whose livelihoods depended upon being able to trust one’s partner quite literally with their lives, it was no small thing to be considered good enough to ride the river with.
So this blog is named as it is in honor of my own humble aspirations. In my professional life as a teacher, writer, and artist, I hope that my colleagues and students, and all my readers will find that I “will do to write the river with.”