Monday, September 15, 2008

The beauty and the beast

Early in the life of this project, I made a promise to myself: To not dwell only on the gloom and doom (one might say the beast) of pollution in our waterways, but also to celebrate the breathtaking beauty of the rivers we’re out to restore.

On a recent trip down the northern St. Croix River, my search for trash was rewarded by more than one glimpse of grandeur. I got nailed by a twenty-minute downpour, which for a moment had me wishing I had stayed off the water that day. But the storm soon passed, and rugged waves yielded to a glass-like surface. I sat there for a moment, reflecting about how lucky I was to be drifting down this wonderful waterway.

Then, I was granted another reflection. My paddle sitting idle on the deck of the kayak, the gentle current turned my boat backwards… and I saw the rear of the storm that had just passed overhead. I quickly grabbed my camera out of the dry sack and snapped this photo. (Click on the image to enlarge either photo.)

The St. Croix River is seldom so stingy as to give its advocates just one picturesque snapshot per visit. At nearly every turn, if you’ll take the time to notice, the river provides a spectacular glance at nature. And so it was this day, as I turned away from the storm and headed toward my base camp (still 4+ miles away). The water acted like its own mirror, offering one gorgeous reflection after another.

My wife has asked how I can turn a four-hour kayaking trip into a full-day excursion. I blame images like this: It is as if the river tempts her visitors to stay just one moment longer, at each crook or bend along the way.
While my mission is to remove trash and debris from our waterways, and encourage others to do the same... it seems a reasonable indulgence to enjoy the natural wonders we discover while on our journey; to capture and share some of the scenes these rivers provide. One might say that the beauty is the incentive; our reward for challenging the beast.

© 2008, Mike D. Anderson, Crystal, MN.

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