Monday, 16 May 2011

Wide Mouth of the River, by Jillena Rose

Wide Mouth of the River

Four children on a path
between the milkweed field
and the silver river,
the path a narrow muddy string,
nothing like the silver of the river or its big wide mouth.

Heads down,
heads hung down, on the path after supper:
Makeshift path, makeshift stupid
boring game, real plans dissolving
like a muddy string in the dirty rain.

The path and the children and the hidden moon.

If you ask us today, even now,
when we are too old to feel this way,
our voices will crack like river ice when we
talk about it: We were betrayed
by our little sister at supper. She told
our father about our plans, she said
we are not your children anymore
we are really pirates, have really always been
and we
are leaving at dusk
for the mouth of the river and you
will never not hold us in your arms again.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The River of History, By Tom Kelly

For Centuries, the waters of Whitefish Bay
Have made their rocky twenty-one foot leap
Into the St. Marys River Valley

Its' pregnant waters at seasonal occasions fed
Countless, from native tribes to today's sport fishermen
In such abundance that it is impossible to tally

The voyageurs named it "Sault," the "Fall" of
The River, dedicated to the Savior's mother

The Saint Mary's River Valley is home to nearly
A hundred thousand of Yanks and Caucks, with
Finns and Poles, Italians and Greeks, among
Many others

The river is an umbilical cord between
Superior and Huron, as well as a waterpath
To the Ocean to the East

Through our travels, my wife, Maryann and I
Have tasted flounder and grouper, trout
And mackerel, but none can compare to a "Superior"
Whitefish feast

Returning from six weeks in Europe, our home-
ward flight took us above the river, Maryann's
Greatest anticipation was for a "Lake Superior

We Upers were not all born by her waters,
But after forty years living on the river,
Deep in our hearts, we heed the magic
Of this historic river's call

A letter and poem for the River by Al Demroske

...Thanks to you, as per our conversation the other day I have been bugged with one of those damned poetry moments, and here is the result, for better or worse. Is it worth considering?

I Fish from the Bank,

an old man of 80 plus years,
sitting on the bank of the St. Mary's River,
fishing and soaking up the warmth of the spring sun.

Along comes a university student,
also intent on fishing,
and a conversation begins,
"Of Mice and Men," or whatever.

The River smiles contently,
as it does what is has always done:
Connecting the generations.

River Spirit (A grandmother shares the river with her grandchildren)

Grandkids, did I ever tell you about walks along the St. Mary’s river?

Well, when your daddy was a little boy we would stroll along the river every day. At the Locks he would run around the fountain, play peek-a-boo or run and hide. When we were hungry we had a picnic lunch on the grass. As we went strolling back and your daddy fell a sleep, Grams liked to watch the rolling water. Some days it was dark and mysterious; other days it was very blue and peaceful.

I was very sad when we had to move to a busy city. That’s where your Aunt Kim was born. We no longer had the river to stroll along, but one house after another. Grams missed the moving water. The river was nature in its glory. Sometimes I would close my eyes and think about the flowing river. It was an awe inspiring memory. After a couple of years living in the big city, we got a surprise. We were moving back to Sault Ste. Marie. How excited everyone was! Grams continued her beautiful strolls along the scenic river with your daddy and Aunt Kim. But all too soon, school came. So Grams had to stroll along the river by herself. Sometimes I would ride my bike and sometimes I would walk. Without being able to share my walks with someone the river looked lonely and cold.

As your daddy and Aunt Kim got older they no longer walked along the river. That’s when Grams got her first dog, Ubu, the Labrador retriever. Ubu loved walks along the river. I would throw a ball or her favorite king kong toy, and she would jump in to retrieve it. What fun we had! Do you remember when you would visit Gram’s house? All of us would take walks along the river. We took turns throwing the ball into the river for Ubu to retrieve. Then we would climb the rocky banks of the river doing a balancing act. When we got tired of doing that, we would skip stones into the river and listen for their splashing noises. Finally when we were totally exhausted and hungry Grams planned a picnic lunch along the riverbank. However we had to share a bit with Ubu and the seagulls. Later that day we took a walk to the canal. I still laugh even today remembering what you said, Clarissa, “Grams, the river is moving so rapidly as if being chased by a mongoose.” Well, Ubu and Grams did river walks watching it flowing continuously for 10 years, and then one day, Ubu died. Indeed, it was a sad day.

I didn’t think I would get another dog, but what happened! Grams got Ruba, the alpha male, Labrador retriever. Life continued with daily walks along the river. Ruba never cared about retrieving but loves to swim in the water and chase the geese. He’s a funny big guy and loves all the attention he receives from people we pass by, especially children. Walking down by the river which is moving so rapidly, Grams sees baby ducks and geese with their mothers. I also see eagles and ospreys around the Sugar Island Ferry and occasionally an otter peacefully swimming. I watch the trees when they start to bud and then see their rich green leaves. In the fall months the trees are arrayed with color. The leaves are crimson red, bronzy brown and golden sunlight. When they fall into the river they look as if someone just painted them and are still wet. In the winter Grams and Ruba go to the head of the river called Ashmun Bay. The city plows the road so we can still walk by the river. The river looks different in winter. Frozen ripples, birds flew to the south, icicle branches, wind blowing snow across the bay, what a beautiful winter wonderland. Grams has been walking along the river for 21 years, with her dogs.

“Grams, what will you do when Ruba dies, get another dog?”

Clarissa, I don’t know if I’ll get another dog. But what I do know is when I die, I’ll be a raindrop that falls into this river of life. So anytime you want to talk to Grams you can walk along the river and I’ll be there, the River Spirit.

A River For All Seasons By Jeanne Mannesto

Pondering this river led to remembrance of enjoyable recreational activities in every season. Kayaking the St. Marys River on a sunny warm day in early autumn going downstream on three mile run in the red river kayak with you in the green one way over there on the American side of the river was a pure adrenalin rush. I caught the current by the Canadian shoreline in the shallows where the white caps proved a challenge to keep going in the right direction. Then reaching relatively calm water in the narrows slowed the paddling down considerably. I sat back and let the river take the boat passing by the loon who lives here. The cool water on my bare toes felt good while pulling the river kayak on shore to relax in the sunny spot on the dock before loading it up in the truck at the small park across from the white church.

The wait with anticipation for the perfect calm bright day of crystalline pastel blue water to motor around Sugar Island in summer always proved fruitful. We loaded the Chris Craft with subs and beverages for a picnic lunch at the park on St. Josephs Island, donned wide brimmed Tilley hats and sunscreen, and settled in for an enjoyable trip. We traveled south going through Lake St. George. After the picnic, it was fun to go down through the channels at St. Josephs Island to see the interesting homes and huge boulders where the local youth jumped into the frigid water. Then we navigated around the tip of the island heading for Aune-Osborn boat launch waving to the other boaters cruising by or those anchored for fishing. We made way for the thousand footer freighters heavy with loads and low in the water. The majestic osprey sat on their nests atop channel markers. The summer scenery of nature, water and fresh air filled us with delight. Pulling back into the dock to tie up and cover the craft always left a bit of nostalgia that another good day was drawing to a close.

In wintertime when the river runs frigid and ice shards form on the shallows which tinkle in the breeze like a glass bell concert, I donned my cross country skis leaving the cottage at sunset to watch the Canadian shield turn pink then a deeper maroon. I slid across the frozen snow and ice encrusted beach going south to the point. Sometimes the otter came out from the caisson to slide silently by looking back at me. One time the woods were lightly coated with snow. It looked like the cook from heaven’s kitchen sifted powdered sugar over the entire area. It clung upon every twig and bough this side of the river. All the evergreens on the Canadian side looked regal. The river ran a peaceful silent steel blue that day with an occasional jay cry in the distance.

In spring the recreational fun was fishing in the rapids by the International Bridge. We crossed the bridge to get to Whitefish Island, hiked to the shoreline to get into the rapids and pulled on waist high waders. We used walking sticks to stay upright on the slick rocky uneven slippery floor of the freezing river sometimes holding hands. The strong current sucked the air out of the waders which get tight to the body. Once at the concrete abutment, we sat in the warmth of the sunshine, got the gear out and hoped for a bite. Other fishermen caught and released steelhead trout. I went home with an empty basket.

Writing the St. Marys River is a good way to re-create these joyful times in all seasons.