Sassafras River, USA - Liz Kirkwood
My Watermark is the Sassafras River on the Chesapeake Bay.
I am the Executive Director of FLOW (For Love of Water), and we’re a Great Lakes water policy centre based in Traverse City, Michigan. I grew up in New York, but I spent every weekend of my life on the Eastern Shore of Maryland on a tributary called the Sassafras River, basically one of the first tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. It was kind of a murky brownish, blackish colour because that’s how a lot of these tributaries are, but we were on a little cove and this is where I first learned how to sail, canoe, kayak, and waterski along this beautiful river.
It’s the place where I really found a lot of solace in nature and knew that I would always have to live very close to water. When I lived in Arizona for a couple years I knew that wouldn’t be good for me – I felt like a fish out of water. There is something really magical about water and how it just connects us in (important) ways. This was a family gathering place for my grandparents, my parents, and us, so it’s an intergenerational place for us to congregate. I try to make an annual pilgrimage back to Chesapeake Bay, it’s very near and dear to my heart. The Chesapeake Bay has really been plagued by a lot of similar problems to here in the Great Lakes like algal blooms.
One of the summer traditions is eating blue crab and we’d all sit around the swimming pool in our bathing suits eating a bushel of crabs, covered with Old Bay all over our hands completely messy, but there were more and more summers where there were no crabs because of the quality of the water. It’s interesting how it takes an elimination of a part of a food supply for people to notice that we need to start doing something about these waters.