Two seemingly unrelated events happened last Friday. First, our village newsletter was delivered in the mail and secondly a large backhoe was delivered at the edge of the woods across the street from my home.
The newsletter for our tiny village (population 750 including pets and livestock) announced that the Indian Creek drainage project was beginning. There's not much standing or flowing water of any kind in our area, although at one time there was a real Lily Lake. At the beginning of the century there were reported several cases of malaria, so residents drained the lake. I wasn't aware it was possible to drain a naturally occurring lake.
The only flowing water I was aware of would be Ferson Creek which runs north to south about 5,000 yards from my property line.
On Saturday morning the backhoe headed into the forest on its tank-like tracts, and began digging the narrow trench pictured above. It was at this point that I realized it was the drainage project and for 12 years I've been living across from Indian Creek. Well, better known as the "damp spot in the woods which was the silted over Indian Creek". The southwest corner of my property is actually the headwater of Indian Creek...also nothing more than a damp spot filled with cattails on the other side of the drainage pipe. But it's at this point the possibilities become exciting.
My intention is to head out one afternoon and discover whether Indian Creek/damp spots turn to meet up with Ferson Creek running parallel just a short distance away. If that is indeed the case then with shoeleather, canoe, boat and ship I can travel to any shore in the entire world, from my front door.
This is what comes from reading William Least Heat-Moon's, "River Horse". It piques a fascination for the vagueries of water - trickling, flowing, spitting, moving, roaring, joining.... traveling, having it's way, defying most attempts at taming, challenging the adventurous to travel along its sinuous and sometimes dangerous trail.
If tiny Indian Creek joins up with Ferson Creek, it can be followed to where it empties into the Fox River, just above Boy Scout Island. The Fox wends its way south and west to flow into the Illinois river at Ottawa. The Illinois travels to a point above St. Louis where it lends its strength to the mighty Mississippi. It should be enough that the Mississippi leads to the Gulf of Mexico, but from the Mississippi you can take the Ohio and snake your way through other waterways to the Atlantic Ocean, or take the more dangerous ride up the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean in the tradition of Lewis and Clark.
It's a journey that will be taken only in my imagination, but think of the possibilities - the Amazon River, the San Blas Islands, Iceland and beyond. Outside my front door.