The surface moves in patterns too complex for the eye to follow
A ripple will dance, simultaneously stretch and shrink, collapse into itself and splinter
countless variations on the theme.
Unfocus and receive the gestalt;
the resignation of clear edges revealing true form
I bike on meandering rides through the city around sunrise or sunset, in hours of transitioning light. This ceremony began years ago, because this is when animals are most active, because these are the most beautiful hours, because it feels good. My rides almost always end at the isle. I transition from urban industrial zones to residential blocks, through the summer beach gatherings and family barbecues in the park, to the feral eastern edge of the isle.
Lay in the grass. Listen, the quiet. The sound of breathing. Feel your lungs expand, your chest open, pushing up and back against the dirt.
The difference in sensations on my way out to this point are so visceral; from the smell of car exhaust and blunt smoke, into wet earth and decaying plant matter. Rattling car stereos fold into crickets and fireflies. Cradled in the riverside grass, I think about how all this segmentation has changed over time; how a recent history of a couple hundred years has temporarily altered the way this land is perceived and experienced. These factories, homes, farms, forests and roads are all the same Place. Forest, wetland, rivers; momentarily displaced.
I find it helpful to think of a place in terms of water; the watershed, then onto the upstream and downstream connections. The Rouge River watershed is the drainage area for the land that is commonly known as Southeast Michigan. The Rouge flows into the Detroit river, which is fed upstream by Lake Superior by way of Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair. Downstream, the river flows into Lake Erie, into the St. Lawrence River, eventually feeding out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Now this is where I find myself; in the grass on an isle in the middle of a river. Water from as far north as Lake Superior hugs around the protruding mound of mud, flowing downstream out across Eastern Canada and into the Ocean. This small shift in perspective further widens this understanding of land, and unlocks a larger vision of place.
The river reminds me that all things are really many things at once. The flow of this water is both linear and cyclical, depending on your perspective. Focus too hard on one aspect and you’ll miss it; the rising and falling, timeless stories told again and again; variations on a theme. With broad vision, familiar patterns emerge. The lines we draw between past, present, and future blur.
We’ve been here before.
I look out into the river, unfocus my eyes and watch as the water flows around the bend.