It seems strange, I know, but I realize only now that I've reached the forty-third post, and I've never really talked about the Drava River. Yes, I told you about the dead branches of the river, the marshes, the fish farms, the dishes made with freshwater fish, and about of going to fishing. But never of the true river.
The river that has marked almost all the summers of my life.
the river of my life
One of the most fascinating things, and at the same time more disturbing, now as then, is to reach the river and find it always different.
The water continues inexorably to dig its path, its level rises and lowers even very quickly. The banks are transformed day after day, enriched with trunks and vegetation, the sand always creates new shoals, new islands, new forms.
Every time we went to the river it was like an adventure. The most beautiful fun was to reach, on the river bank, a possible sandy beach. Especially when the water level was high, you had to find new paths among the trees, cross stagnant waters, sink your feet in the deep mud. Sometimes the water was particularly low and huge shoals were formed that almost allowed you to wade the river. At other times the water was so high that all the trees were submerged and could not be approached.
The river embankments are far away, the flood area is very wide, and the river is free to change its course. You can see with google maps: there are so many signs of the old routes, and everywhere there are old branches of the river. Even the weaving of agricultural land presents clear signs of the old passage of the river.
Since I was a child I hear stories around the water of the river. Tales of sudden flooding, of danger and difficulty in being able to return home.
One of my recurring dreams, since I was young, is to get to the river, to realize that the water level is rising, and not being able to go back home. I still dream of it.
learn to swim
It can be said that I learned to swim in the Drava river. Always with a feeling of imminent danger. Funny to swim against the current, always remaining in the same spot; beautiful to be carried away. But never lose control. Almost every year news came of some person who had not returned from the bath to the river. One year we were right at the beach. It was terrible. Where the water is deeper, dangerous vortexes are created. It is easy to realize the power of the current: when you are a child and the water reaches your chest, it is also difficult to walk against the current, let alone swim.
Once, near the plaza to leave the car, there was a store of drinks and beer. it was a tall, narrow, long wooden stilt house with a large wooden staircase. Just seeing the long staircase made you realize how much the river level could grow. Then one year they took it apart. Or maybe the current has taken it away. I think the reason is because once the river was very popular, while, over the years, it has become less and less.
This post is getting too long, and I still have to tell a lot of things. So I decided to split it in two. In the next part: the long road to reach the river, among the wild vegetation, the holes in the sand, the sunset and the autumn.