Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The River

As I have stated previously, I find extreme pleasure in being able to bike along the St. Joseph River every day going to and from work. I am a "river person". The river seems to me to be more alive than, let's say, a lake. I have been lucky enough in this life to have spent some time running one of this country's great rivers, the Colorado. It was then that I fell in love with rivers.
I spent some time in Arizona on a Pima indian reservation. The Pima name for their tribe was Akimel O'odham, which means "River People". They were dependant and very connected to their rivers. Here in Fort Wayne, it seems the only time we care about the rivers are when they flood.
It is crazy that I have found myself in the City of Three Rivers. And that I get to commute along one of them each day. For that I am truly thankful.

Where the heck am I going with all of this river stuff you ask?
Well, the St. Joseph River, on which I commute, is probably one of the uglier rivers of the three that we have here in Ft. Wayne. I understand that the levies are a necessity but it makes for a very un-natural appearance. That is until the rivers have been allowed to flow more freely in the last few days. Finally, I saw the geography of the river, Where it wants to flow and where it wants to deposit its sediment. It has actually come alive. I have been able to see it in it's more natural state.
So today as I was taking all of this in and traveling north looking at the Tennesee bridge I see a splash that, I thought, came from an extremely large fish. I kept my eye on the spot as I got closer and then had a horrible realization. Someone driving on the Tennesee Bridge had thrown a can of Mt Dew into the river as they passed over it. It made me sick to my stomach that this living river could take such abuse. This river, that is on of the main reasons that the Indians were here before the whites chased them out. The reason that we are here still today. We throw our trash and our poop and whatever else into out rivers. It is no wonder that the wildlife seems so absent form this stretch of the St. Joe. With the water low you can see a shopping cart and an old camper shell too. If I am being too dramatic then I guess I just don't get it. These rivers are a resource, not a flowing trash can. That is how I view them at least. Although the prevailing attitude seems to be different from my own. I mean, the only reason we are doing the storm water separation project that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars over the next twenty years is so the City won't get fined by the EPA! I guess I don't get it.

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