I have been rafting, canoeing, and kayaking on the beautiful Delaware River, and camping along it’s banks for 30 years. My sons grew up knowing the joys of riding its gentle rifts and rapids, and participating in volunteer efforts to clean it up. My favorite hiking stick was fished out of the Delaware during a clean-up trip in 1997 – a gnarly sycamore branch with burls and a bend in just the right spot. It’s been broken and lovingly repaired, a metaphor for life, showing that important things needn’t be discarded just because they get a little banged up. I still receive so many compliments on that stick in spite of, or sometimes because of, the nifty repair job.
An overnight trip down the Delaware can be a life altering event. The fireflies alone put on a light show more mesmerizing than any fireworks display in the country.
When I am on the Delaware watching bald eagles soaring overhead then swooping in for prey, or paddling near the banks to spy on egrets, herons, turtles, and a host of riverside mammals, or sitting on a rock watching the sun glisten on its ripply, ever-moving surface, I feel that I am one with this river. It is part of me – part of my very soul – and I am part of it.
Everyone should have a river they can feel part of, a river that will course through their veins even when they’re miles away in their office cubicle, construction lot, or big box store. My connection with the Delaware River makes me feel centered – bonded to something primal and immortal. If everyone feels this way about a river, or stream, or lake, we’ll all work that much harder to protect them.