The Flow of Time

I am walking early in the morning. But this time I am not thinking about my adventure.  My mind is wandering back to an article I read some time ago. The article was about the Cedar River and how areas of the river are no longer safe for certain water recreation activities because of the risk of ingesting polluted water. How times have changed in just my lifetime. As a boy, I played, fished and swam in the Cedar River and its tributaries. Not only did I accidentally ingest the water, but I also routinely drank from many of the springs along the river. My youthful stomping grounds included local names: Otranto Station, Pickerel Hole, Perkins Place and Aunt Mary’s Island, all with large refreshing springs.

As I walk, I am thinking about the journey. It starts with a few steps, which eventually turn into miles. I have lived for over sixty years and have also been blessed with knowing two grandfathers and one great grandfather. So, I also have a perspective of an environmental journey. The environmental journey is not unlike my walk which starts with small steps leading to great distances or changes. There is, however, a fundamental difference. While my walk flows forward, the environmental journey is flowing backwards.

I remember well many of my grandfathers’ hunting and trapping stories and realized, as a boy, that much that once was, is now lost. I see now how much has changed from my boyish adventures. Many of the creeks I played in are gone or are now ditches; the upland forests that I walked through are cleared and are being farmed. The marshes that I explored for critters and birds are drained. The prairies and meadows where meadowlarks sang and butterflies ran from my net are now corn and soybean fields.

I wonder about the present generation and their adventures and the Iowa they know. Do they have an appreciation of what has been lost? How much more loss will they accept? So the journey goes on, steadily in reverse. Will it stop, slow or continue or change direction?

What has your generation lost? What responsibility do you have to the next? As each of us pass on, so goes the record of what was and ever harder it will be to reclaim what has been lost.