Oh, how I love Astoria. I love to go down to the Riverwalk, strolling along the banks to smell the estuary, to hear the waves as they lap the shores, to see the gulls, egrets and the cormorants.

I love to go to the river to count the ships in anchorage. I get excited every time I see a vessel coming upriver or downriver under the bridge. The sight of the river pilot boat pulling up next to a passing vessel gives me goose bumps.

I love that we celebrate being a Coast Guard City. I love to hear visitors go "oh, look at that," pointing to a spectacular view that has captured their attention. I love riding the trolley and listening to the conductors boast about our rich history, and pointing out all the river activity.

This natural wonder running its course along our city boundary was named Columbia in 1792 by Capt. Robert Gray, but it has existed for eons of time with native peoples living along its banks.

The ancient Chinook people called it "wimahl," which translates to simply mean "big river." They revered it, and had great wisdom, understanding it to be a precious gift, and taking responsibility to preserve it for those who came after.

To paraphrase an oft-quoted thought: We do not inherit the beauty and the vistas of "the big river" Columbia from our ancestors; we are but keepers, and we borrow it from our children, and future generations, forever and ever.

LARRY ALLEN

Astoria

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