By Cathy Johnson
Here’s a personal water story for you.
I recently had the opportunity to spend five days up on the shores of Lake Huron at my sister’s cottage near Tawas. They have owned their little piece of paradise for thirty years now, and I have been lucky enough to be invited to spend time there. When our kids were all little we would go up once a summer for Fourth of July festivities and water fun. Besides the allure and wonder of the Great Lake itself, the annual visit also included a trip out to the point, where Tawas Point State Park provides a fabulous beach as well as trails to explore.
But the visit to the cottage usually also included a canoe trip or two from Tawas Lake into the Tawas River which feeds eventually into Lake Huron. It’s the perfect river for recreational canoeists. Deep enough to not get stuck and slow enough to not cause trouble. My son Dan and I were fortunate enough to get to paddle that particular excursion this year, and, my, oh my, how some things have changed.
When the kids were small, the trip had a totally different tone to it. The adults did the paddling and the kids did the sitting and sighting. Back then, we “fished” the river every time, not for live creatures, but for anything manmade that we could remove. Our favorite finds were abandoned bobbers, cans and bottles. One year we even “rescued” a mailbox which was submerged just below the water level. There were no markings on it, so it eventually made its way back to the cottage and adorned one of my sister’s gardens for several years.
This year’s journey was a revelation, in more ways than one. The river itself was in pristine condition. We didn’t see anything in the river that didn’t belong there naturally. And, since it was the middle of the week, we found ourselves completely alone on the river. We did pass a couple of anglers who were fishing from the riverbank, but that was it. Otherwise it was just us…and the fish….and the turtles…and the ducks….and the herons.
At one point we stopped and watched as a heron sought its lunch from the shore. Dan videoed it from the canoe. Then, a bit further down the river, we watched another heron fly gracefully from its perch along the river to a spot further inland.
It was all so peaceful that I was sad when the landmark for getting out of the river arrived. But since a thunderstorm was also approaching, it was time to get off the river.
Later that afternoon, after that storm had passed through, my sister and her daughter took her grandson for his first canoe ride down the Tawas River. Hopefully that marks the beninning of his relationship with the river and the memories that will be made there.