Minnesota River Notebook
is the 2nd assignment Florence posted for the 1997 Rivers of Life: Mississippi
Use your creativity to it's
story of our rivers is ALWAYS about change. And right now, some changes
are pretty quick and dramatic. Suddenly there are eight eagles squabbling
over a fish on the ice by the "Eagle Bridge." Suddenly, an entire upright
little tree, embedded in ice bobs down a surging river to slam into a bridge
piling. This how the river likes to change things!
In Granite Falls, the river is still all ice above the hydro-electric dam, while downstream bulldozers push sand, shoring up the banks. As I head east, my car is magically enclosed in a giant snowflakes, falling into nearly iridescent blue pools in dark field and disappearing into the still placid open waters of the Yellow Medicine River. A marsh hawk swoops, a flock of red-winged black birds start up at my passing.
These seasonal changes remind me of the less dramatic but more serious ones that take place in the river over many years. If you have read Minnesota River History and listened to the stories of the older river-dwellers, you know that once this river was lots cleaner. Clear enough so you could see a sandbar under water. Healthy enough to be home to a grand variety of clams. Safe enough to swim in. The river flooded back then too, driving great blocks of ice into still young towns. Sometimes a city would have to hire someone to run out on the river and use dynamite to break up the ice and get it moving downstream. There's an example of humans trying to change things!
Let's consider this business of change in our writing over the next couple of weeks:
1. If you've been gathering information on the river and watershed of the past, write a poem or an essay that begins: "I'm going to the river of the past, where...." Describe sights, sounds, the life in and around the river from the past. Then continue with: "I'm going to the river of today, where...."
2. Journal a list of all the changes you are observing on and by the rivers and streams during this glorious awakening we call spring. What changes are occurring as the snow and ice melt?
3. Write your best thoughts on this topic: "When it comes to the river we've got to change..." What stands in the way of humans changing so that we live in greater harmony with the Minnesota and other rivers?
As for me, if I could change anything right as this moment, I would give us all time to drive, skateboard, walk, bike, ride a horse to a river or a stream. I believe there is important advice about change in the endless voices of water, birds, oaks, frogs and even the silence there. Each one of us can be part of the story of a river changing for the better.
for Global Environmental Education