by Janet Eddy, Ashland, VA

Story prompt: Write your own river story…

The alarm woke me at 6am. I ate, jumped into sweatpants and a long sleeve shirt, grabbed a hat and coffee. It was an overcast, warm September Saturday 7 years ago. As a boatless individual who loves rivers, I had signed up to plant trees at Presquile Island because it included a ride on the James.

I arrived at the boat landing across from Presquile, which is a National Wildlife Refuge 20 miles southeast of Richmond. Five other volunteers waited at the edge of the water. Our leader, Cyrus Brame from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, brought the little old-fashioned ferry around. The lower James, wide splash of deep blue, was cloaked in a low mist.

In the ferry now, we motored east down the river and then across toward the island’s pier. Dense forest flanked us on both sides. A bald eagle soared overhead. Crows stood on top branches of tall trees calling to each other across the river.

Cyrus spoke quietly, telling us about the habitats on the island and the creatures that call this part of the James home.

Suddenly, a loud splash, close behind us. I turned and saw a big spiked fish tail disappear into the water not 20 feet away. I turned back with wide eyes to a bunch of dropped jaws and a grinning leader.

“And that was an Atlantic Sturgeon, back home to spawn”.


Video by James River Association