Friday, October 20, 2006

Shutting Down...

It is around 7:00 am and first light is just now showing. One webb site is giving Lake Michigan surface temps in the 30's. It is cloudy and gray...and (as one more attempt to depress me) they've pulled the plug on the river (just because I am paranoid doesn't mean they're not after me...but I digress).

Each year, around this time, the county opens the damn in the park south of here in order to drop the river level dring winter. The bottom, once covered to the tree line, is exposed along with a plethora of shopping carts, park tables and benches, tires and all sorts of debris. It is as if the river has given up all hope, and one wonders if it will ever rejuvenate itself.

Indeed, there has been a movement to leave the river at this level and let everything return to its "natural state". The problem is, however, that the damn was built after some construction artificially lowered the river and folks wanted to elevate it back to its "natural state". Once again, in our infinite wisdom, we have dicked with things to the point that no one seems sure what the natural state actually is.

Rather than let all this depress me, I will go to the big lake later today and paddle. Levels there are also historically low, witness the photos from Door County on previous blogs. And, to be sure, there are controls on the Chicago River that could be used to "pull the plug" on the lake as well. Open those gates, and the water will gush to the Mississippi. Rivers, lakes and people all seem to live tenuous and fragile lives.

Still, I will visit the river frequently during the winter, mostly while walking his majesty Ansel. You see, with the levels dropped, the river is revealed and, by simply noting where there is still water, I can relearn where the deep channels will be in summer when (I think) the plug will be reinserted and the river will rise to fill its bed once again.

Travel safe...


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