Water Trust Writing Contest: Canto porque el río suena

Canto porque el río suena, by Angélica Breña, won second place in the 2024 Water Trust Writing Contest. The accompanying photo is courtesy of Andrea Booher, and the translation of the piece was done by the author’s husband, Julian Nihill.


Canto porque el río suena.

Angélica Breña

El Sartén, mi río, irradia una personalidad magnética, es agreste y salvaje, a la vez, rumoroso y sereno. La perfecta combinación. Su sonido es la esencia misma de la vida, pues la vida fluye como el agua que lo compone. La corriente del Frying Pan nunca se cansa; poderosa o serena se desliza y me recuerda al eterno cambio de las cosas y de la vida.

A lo largo de sus riberas se alzan majestuosos cottonwoods, cambiando su vestimenta con las estaciones. En otoño, sus hojas adquieren tonalidades de oro viejo, añejo. En lo alto de sus ramas, las águilas construyen sus nidos, utilizando su aguda visión para pescar y alimentar a sus crías. Mientras tanto, en las aguas del río, las truchas saltan jubilosas, atrayendo a las garzas azules y a los intrépidos dippers.

Cada primavera, me aventuro en bicicleta para recorrer de la millas 7 a la 14 de mi amado Sartén, llegando hasta la Presa Ruedi, la madre del río Frying Pan y les canto. No hay placer mayor en el valle que contemplar su sinuosa cabellera de plata bajo la luna llena. Siento que soy un río en movimiento, quiero ser ese cauce, buscando el eterno mar al que inevitablemente pertenezco.

I sing because the river sounds.

Angélica Breña
Translated by Julian Nihill

My river, the Frying Pan, irradiates a magnetism; it is rugged and wild yet also gurgliing and serene, the perfect combination. Its song is the very essence of life, for life flows like the water from which it is derived. The Frying Pan’s current never tires; powerful or calm, it glides, constantly changing like life itself.

Majestic cottonwoods decorate its banks, changing their raiment with the seasons. In autumn, their leaves take on shades of old, burnished gold. High in their branches eagles build their nests, using their sharp vision to fish and feed their young. Meanwhile, in the river waters, trout leap exuberantly, attracting blue herons and intrepid dippers.

Each spring I set out on my bicycle to ride from mile 7 to mile 14 of my beloved Pan, and I sing to its pools and ripples as I make my way to its mother, Ruedi Reservoir. There is no greater pleasure in the Valley than to contemplate the river ́s sinuous silver mane under a full moon. I feel as though I am a river in motion; I want to be that current, seeking the eternal ocean to which, inevitably, I belong.”


About the author: “I was born, raised, and a resident of Mexico City until 2010, when I went camping with my actual husband on his new property by mile 7 of the Frying Pan River Road. We continued during summer until we finished our small cabin in 2014. We live happily in this Valley and enjoy the river every single day. I am a Retired Literature professor and active in programs for the latinx community like Voices, Forest Conservancy volunteers, and Basalt Regional Library. I still love books and enjoy biking, hiking, kayaking, music, and salsa dancing.”