#WaterStories is inspired by the work of the Town Creek Foundation; this series seeks to demonstrate that being connected to and concerned about the water near your home is a human instinct. In the wake of the Flint, MI disaster, the California droughts, and the historically poor water quality on First Nations reservations throughout America, now is the time to raise our voices about water and our overall wellness.
What is your happiest memory involving a naturally occurring body of water (lake, river, ocean)?
Six years ago, a woman and I went for a long drive. It was at night. We were surprised the gates to the park were open. We rode through the pitch black, high beams sweeping the dark, taking the trail to the park’s lower section. From there, you could see the moon rippling in the Potomac River that separated the park from the mini-mansions with their docked boats.
I was in love with this woman, but didn’t know how to tell her. What we were at the time still had the new smell on it. I had no way of knowing then that she’d be my wife, that we’d have a house and be raising our first child. Even now, we talk about that night we looked across the Potomac River. She opened my moon roof and vaguely pointed at a star. When I pointed at the sky, she said, “Not that one. This one; the bright one,” taking my hand and guiding it to the base of the Big Dipper.
Her hand on my hand, the smell of wood burning, and the low call of night creatures over the Potomac River’s swooshing sounds are what I recall from that night. That was one of my happiest memories.
Are you able to enjoy the bodies of water near where you live? If not, please describe what factors are preventing more activity.
The Potomac is mostly good for boating. I remember as a kid being excited when my Uncle David would visit us. He’d bring his boat. My dad, a few cousins and I would go with him to the Fort Washington Marina. I don’t remember how old I was that Sunday we went out on the water. But I know I wasn’t old enough to drive yet. Uncle David loved anything he could speed in. I thought one of us was going to fall out of the boat the way he whipped those turns.
You also saw people boating from the lower part of Fort Washington Park. But never swimming. Conventional wisdom was that the water was so polluted that you’d die from the chemicals before the water killed you. Yet, some people still fished from the Potomac; not us, though.
Water is a huge part of our human experience on the planet, what (if anything) are your major concerns about the natural bodies of water in your area?
The only concern I have is the pollution. Right now, the safest thing to do in that water is to go boating.
Alan King is an author, poet, journalist and videographer, who lives in the DC metropolitan area. He writes about art and domestic issues on his blog. Professionally, he’s currently both a communications specialist for a national nonprofit and a senior editor at Words Beats & Life‘s global hip hop journal.