Life can be rich in irony, as I was reminded yesterday. I was running a little early for our Heart of the River Coalition meeting, so I stopped in the new Goodwill store on Scatterfield Road to peruse the book section for a few minutes. My eye quickly was attracted by a blue cover which carried the title Always a River. Edited by Robert Reid, it’s a collection of essays about the history of Ohio River and its valley. How ironic!. If the reservoir plan is pushed through, there would be a lake and not a river where the river is now (just a couple miles to the north).
The lead essay in the collection was penned by Scott Sanders and is titled The Force of Moving Water. He writes about the Mound Builders culture and later tribal habitation. Here’s an especially pertinent excerpt:
“On a steamboat trip down the Ohio in 1841, Charles Dickens met a Choctaw chief who presented him with a calling card and then conversed with him, in English, about the poetry of Sir Walter Scott. Describing the incident in American Notes (1842), Dickens clearly intended for his readers to lift their eyebrows at the spectacle of a savage becoming civilized. 6 By 1841, however, the savages” had already maintained a civilization in the Ohio valley for several thousand years, far longer than descendants of Europeans and Africans have managed to survive her. If, say in the year 5000, our descendants are still living beside the Ohio in peace and prosperity, without having exhausted the soil or poisoned the river, then there will be cause for boasting. For now, we are still sojourners in the land, our wisdom untested, the durability of our ways unproved.”