“I’ve been trying to get to Lake Erie all winter and it’s been so slow going until now. I started in Oakland County, when I woke up in a SWAMP, after being frozen over all the way from January until April.
“So here I am now, in May, and I made it Southeast to Ypsilanti. I’m full of rain and snowwater and I’m moving faster than I can at any other time of year, but like, I’m still stuck between all these 19 dams from old mills that don’t even exist now. I still try to find my way down races that used to connect to the river and I get turned around and sent back, and then I have to try and stay in one piece when I fall over these 8 foot dividers in me.
“A long time ago, men built a sawmill and a flour mill in a place they called Delhi – and they never cleaned it up. The Delhi Rapids are an area for only experienced boaters to go to, where my water cascades over the underwater ruins of the dam that powered those mills, over the stones they used to build walls and grind flour, pushed by my water.
“Along the way to the lake, you’ll notice a lot of tires thrown in near the highways, glass bottles that roll around underwater and plastic ones that collect on top. There are bike frames and candy wrappers, and I don’t know why exactly, but the tires are the most visible thing. Anything that people throw away, you can find somewhere in me. There is a lot of wood that falls into me from trees naturally – but people built docks long ago and never took them out, and pitched old adirondack chairs in to fall apart and feed what little soil there is in the rocky river bed.
“Let me tell you, my sister rivers the Grand and the Kalamazoo, they head all the way West across the state until they hit Lake Michigan, and I know I have it easy – I’m almost always somewhere flat and downhill and carved out, especially once I get down to Belleville.
“I used to be so cluttered with big boats – now I just have to listen to canoers complain about log jams and kayakers who can’t portage successfully – they’re not ferrying out to Pennsylvania, they’re just here for a day, here to have fun.
“The railroad runs next to me, like my brother. We both don’t have a lot to send these days – just passenger trains and tourists who rent canoes. But we make sure the other one is okay and the rails whisper encouragement to me when I get trapped with my trout in the fish ladder, when I notice the carp eating things they shouldn’t because they’re far from home.
“I never meant to stay inland for so long. I never wanted to be constantly moving, constantly used for transportation by people who hurt the things that live in me.
“It’s said that rivers are the first roads – but maybe they’re also the last. I keep trying to get through all the things between me and the lake – I keep trying to get there. Water is supposed to flow.
“It’s been a long time since I could flow freely.”