© 2024 Interlochen
CLASSICAL IPR | 88.7 FM Interlochen | 94.7 FM Traverse City | 88.5 FM Mackinaw City IPR NEWS | 91.5 FM Traverse City | 90.1 FM Harbor Springs/Petoskey | 89.7 FM Manistee/Ludington
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Essays by Karen Anderson: Runoff

Illustration by Kacie Brown

My husband and I are canoeing the Manistee River in early spring. This might be our favorite season because the water is high and fast—and there are no black flies yet. We can still see through the woods and catch a glimpse of deer, beaver, turkeys.

The hard work belongs to Dick, who sits in the stern and guides us around fallen trees and through tumbling rapids. Up in the bow, I only have to keep paddling and keep watch.

This time of year, the water is muddy with runoff from melting snow. My life feels the same, clogged with debris from the past, cloudy with regrets. All the answers I thought I had found seem obscure now and lost from view.

But the river keeps going, pushing against its banks with relentless movement. Whatever it is asked to carry, however far, it shoulders with fierce energy. Including me and my various confusions. Inviting me to lighten up and let go. Let the silt and sadness sink out of sight. The river knows what it means to move on, knows there isn’t any choice.

A red leaf from last fall twirls in the current and vanishes around a bend. And on a cold bright morning, I am strangely healed.

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.