The Trouble Upstream - kindle ebook by A.L.Means

Kenneth Grahame’s The Wing in the Willows has always been a favorite of mine, combining as it does a captivating children’s story with a suggestion of allegory and a mystical view of nature.
Growing up a couple of miles from where Grahame spent his final years, I was well acquainted with the River Thames on which Rat and Mole lived in the story. It was common enough also to come across rambling piles worthy of being the facsimile for Toad Hall. With a little imagination, the entire cast of characters could come alive for me among southern England’s wild woods.

With this in mind, I wandered one summer’s afternoon along the bank of a river in the home state of my adult years. Arizona’s waterways are all the more precious for being so few, and although the East Verde River in central Arizona is tiny it has an allure that is second to none. Its trees and waterfalls form a stark contrast with the surrounding arid hills, and on that summer’s day the buzzing of insects and the rustle of leaves triggered childhood memories. 

Surely a river this magical deserved a story of its own, I thought. I couldn’t rival Grahame’s immortal tale, but perhaps I could come up with a few native animals for characters and a plausible tale. And so The Trouble Upstream took shape. Finding distinctive creatures in Arizona is easy enough, and the obvious plot for any local river story is keeping the river running. Only a fraction of Arizona’s riparian areas from before modern settlement still exist. 

A beaver who wonders where the water went became the protagonist, and it’s my hope that his adventures will keep a few readers turning pages until the end of the story.  Of course, with rivers, there’s never really an end to the story. There’s always more to explore. To paraphrase something Rat said long ago, there’s absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about around rivers.    

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