Water plays a role and everyone’s life. Ditch, stream, lake, river aqueduct, marsh, swamp, puddle; I am certain every person has a special water place in their memory. There are many to choose from when you grow-up in Michigan surrounded by the Great Lakes. I chose this spot along the Detroit River because it was a constant in my life.
Write an incident that occurs around water. Use a memory as a base, but write it in present tense.
The assignment today for Photography 101 was to photograph water and to experiment with horizontal and vertical images. I had a lot of choices for this one, and chose to go to Bishop Park along the Detroit River in Wyandotte, Michigan.
Bishop Park was the first place I played with kids not related to me. They had the good swings, too, wide wood seat coated in rubber suspended on long heavy chains; you could get some height on those suckers. I saw my first fireworks display there. The three-decked Bob-lo Boat complete with disco dance floor and killer sound system, docked in Bishop Park to take me to Bob-Lo Island; my first amusement park and first roller coaster ride. You can see Canada from Bishop Park. As a kid, I thought it was amazing to look across the river at another country. The bar near the park has a parking lot along the river and was the first place I held the hair of a puking friend who drank to much on a balmy evening in June; I was 18 and 6 months.
The spot I went to take my photos was the same spot, my Mom told me, where my Grandfather road his bike across the frozen river to Canada. There is a picture of him performing this feat. My mother told me this story as she gazed out on the unfrozen river one winter,
“It doesn’t freeze anymore,” she said.
“Why?” asked my 7-year-old self.
“To polluted.” she said.
But she was wrong. I have seen the Detroit River and Lake Erie freeze-over more times than I can count on my fingers.
There was never a rail along the river when I was a kid, just a rocky shoreline and a few No Swimming signs. Today there is a rail and benches. I have not gone to Bishop Park in a number of years because they have so many rules now it has taken all the fun out of it. The biggest deterrents for me are NO DOGS and ADULTS ARE NOT ALLOWED ON SWINGS.
I went there today and as peered over the rail I was stunned. I saw the bottom. The water was so clear junk could be identified. It was the first time I saw the bottom of the Detroit River. It used to be a greenish brown murk. Always.
I abandoned my idea of taking photos of the frozen river in the spot where Grandpa Pisarwski road his bike across to buy booze in Canada and focused on this new discovery. I took several photos, but decided on these two.
I played with tapping on the iPhone to focus where I wanted and in the horizontal photo I focused on the clear bottom. I didn’t realize it, but I must have moved when I turned to take the vertical shot. I like the texture of the melting ice, failing concrete, rusting iron, and new wood juxtaposed with the softer textures of the river bottom. I hear the river saying to these materials, “You will be mine one day soon.”
The river is frozen only there are shipping channels along the Canadian and American shores that are broken with ice cutters; that is something to see.
Here is the vertical shot.
This is what I saw when I peered over the railing for the first time in years. I was shocked.
And now I know why there were no swimming signs posted, it may not look it but the bottom is a good 20 feet down.
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