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Saturday, September 24, 2011

“The only constant in the world is change.”

So said my high school earth science teacher on our first day of class, freshman year, and I have never forgotten Mr. Graham’s introduction, although it’s taken me several days to dredge his name from my memory banks. Everything changes. Even rocks erode and stars die. Everything material is ephemeral, if you measure time relative to the object’s life.Yesterday’s post showed Miner’s Castle as it looks now, a dramatic change from previous years, and today's shows the mouth of the Sucker River as it appears in September 2011. It's been different every time I've seen it.

The mouths of rivers and creeks emptying into the Great Lakes, especially via sandy shores, change rapidly from one year to the next. It’s true of Shalda Creek and Roaring Brook here in Leelanau County, and it’s true of the Sucker River up east of Grand Marais, where the bay and harbor also undergo constant transformation. First there was a sheltered bay with two long peninsula arms embracing it...then a channel was dredged through one point, creating an island...then the island washed away in a storm. Recently the harbor has been silting in, and, always, the high bluffs of Lonesome Point (or Artists’ Point) are being eroded by Lake Superior storms and waves. But the quiet, tannin-stained river? Yes, that contour too undergoes continual alteration where it pours its cold water along and across the sandy, rock- and driftwood-strewn sands, and the beach we enjoy one year will be underwater the next, with new beach created where there were only waves the year before.

The shifting of river mouths are Nature’s changes, channel dredging with machines the work of human beings. While our species introduces change constantly and often at breakneck speed, one aspect of cultural changes I find interesting is how many of them are motivated by an urge to preserve the past, one example in Grand Marais being new post office museum.

The building had already been moved to its new location when we visited a year ago and is now filled with displays of local history.

Amid all the cultural and natural changes, so far it still remains true that the setting of Grand Marais features “Nature in Abundance.” I hope this will always be so. Just knowing that such places exist refreshes my soul--and other souls, too, I know.


Gerry said...

We can never step in the same river twice--and yet . . . it is the beloved river.

I love our rivers, every one.

Kathy said...

The only constant is change. That becomes clearer and clearer every day. When we cling to our expectations, insisting they remain the same, our heart often suffers. I am trying to learn to flow like the river, like the waves of Lake Superior lapping against the shore. What a beautiful post!

P. J. Grath said...

The beloved river, our life, brings losses along with gifts. Acceptance seems to be the secret to contentment. More easily achieved some days than others, but I just read the thought (in TATTOOS ON THE HEART) that we can still reach toward what exceeds our reach, and I like that thought. Thanks for your comments, Gerry and Kathy.