Place Where You Live:

Arcata, California

Mad River Skate

As 8 wheels were rolling over rough concrete, intense seismic waves rippled through my feet and calves. I could pinpoint the spots on my feet that were starting to blister, but we were only 5 miles into our journey, and not even at our final destination. Red-winged blackbirds sang loudly and cows looked at us nervously as we rolled noisily past. Myself and two other friends were rollerskating to Mad River, an 8 mile trip from Arcata, via rural roads and farmlands.

The road was not forgiving, our soft, polyethylene wheels did not glissade over the surface, rather it felt like a constant game of resisting the magnetic pull of our faces to the concrete. In a scene of vast green dairy pastures and tall tan beach grass surrounding us on all sides, we were three strange, toppling, disjointed bodies, wobbling across the stage as if we were in a slapstick comedy show for the songbirds watching us on the telephone wires.

Our dust ridden bearings and labored breathing was the first squeaky and clumsy movement of the symphony of sound that began to intertwine with the harmony of the Mad River as we finally arrived to our destination. Our aching feet began to swell as we un-laced our skates and stuffed them into the tennis shoes we brought with us in our now, sweat-drenched backpacks. As we walked together towards the river’s edge, my feet acclimating to the absence of wheels, I reached out and lightly clasped a yarrow inflorescence that was within reach. I felt grateful, strong and proud to have pushed my wheels, in hundreds of repeated strokes to end up tattered, quietly observing the whole, flowing ecosystem.