Three Rivers

Rivers flow not past, but through us; tingling, vibrating, exciting every cell and fiber in our bodies, making them sing and glide.  – John Muir

Sandusky River
Sandusky River behind the dam, deeper water

On my drive to work each day I cross three rivers, and I feel…something…as I drive over each one. I feel happy. And I can actually feel my heart rate slow as I gaze down at the water flowing beneath me. I would imagine that most people just drive across bridges without much thought, but I can’t stop thinking about why I’m still having such a significant response to these rivers after three months of driving over them.

Kayaking on a small lake in Michigan
Kayaking on a small lake in Michigan

Like many people, I’ve always been drawn to water. The ocean and the beach don’t hold much attraction for me, though, for whatever reason. I generally gravitate to ponds and small lakes. When I lived in Michigan I spent a lot of time kayaking on some of the beautiful lakes in their state and county parks, watching birds and taking photos of dragonflies.

But somehow I’ve not spent much time on or around rivers during my life. So maybe the attraction is partly due to the novelty of it. But there’s something fascinating about the way a river winds its way through the landscape, always changing, always moving.

I guess I get a feeling of peace when I’m near a river. Something about the movement of the water maybe. It’s coming from somewhere. It’s going somewhere else. Sometimes slowly, other times more rapidly, but never motionless. Moving water is cleansing, so maybe it has the same effect on my soul, helping to purge negativity and stimulate optimism.

A shallower section of the Sandusky River
Shallower portion of the Sandusky River

The first river I cross on my drive is the Sandusky, which is only about a quarter of a mile from home “as the crow flies.” It’s very shallow here, with many areas of exposed rocky riverbed. I think that makes it very scenic. As I cross the small bridge, I look to my left and catch a glimpse of the Ballville Dam that will most likely be removed soon (based on our recent election result). I look to my right and often see a pair of Bald Eagles sitting side by side in a tree overlooking the river. The eagles are just icing on the cake though, because I fell in love with this river long before I ever saw those birds hanging out here. And I’m excited about the possibility that the eagles will be able to stay all winter long because they’ve found this spot near the dam where, I’m guessing, there will be an area of open water year round. I’m looking forward to trying to get some photos of them soon.

Sandusky River seen from the Tindall Bridge
Sandusky River seen from the Tindall Bridge
Tindall Bridge with sunburst
Tindall Bridge with sunburst

About a mile from home in the opposite direction, where the Tindall Bridge crosses the river, there’s a sign marking it as an “Ohio Scenic River.” I’m drawn to the bridge as well as the water here, because it’s a one-lane metal bridge that makes a humming noise as you drive over it. One sunny day recently I walked down under the bridge and wandered around on the exposed rocks.  There was a guy in hip waders fishing out in the middle of the river, and a few lingering Killdeer calling out and chasing each other back and forth from one bank to the other. I still smile when I recall how I felt that day with the sun on my back and the cool air on my cheeks, and the sound of water trickling through dozens of small rock pools.

Tindall Bridge, 100 years old
Tindall Bridge, 100 years old
Below the Tindall Bridge, on the Sandusky River
Below the Tindall Bridge, on the Sandusky River
Portage River in Oak Harbor, Ohio
Portage River in Oak Harbor, Ohio (Image (c) Google Maps)

Next on my northward journey to work is the Portage River in downtown Oak Harbor. It flows into Lake Erie at Port Clinton.  I like how this one seems to be overflowing its banks, almost too much river to be contained within the channel.

Toussaint River, where the water is close to the road (Image (c) Google Maps
Toussaint River, where the water is close to the road (Image (c) Google Maps)

The last river I cross is the Toussaint, a 6-mile-long river that flows from west to east in Carroll Township, also emptying into Lake Erie. Crossing this one is the most exciting because the road is at the water level rather than far above it, so I feel like I’m literally driving across the water. Until most of them migrated south, I usually saw quite a few Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons here. There are still lots of gulls hanging out near this bridge, and often a Red-tailed Hawk on a nearby light pole, hoping for a hunting opportunity.

have never seen a river that I could not love. Moving water…has a fascinating vitality. It has power and grace and associations. It has a thousand colors and a thousand shapes, yet it follows laws so definite that the tiniest streamlet is an exact replica of a great river.  – Roderick Haig Brown

The other day I went to visit a friend in Brecksville (near Cleveland) and on my way home I had just a few minutes to stop by the local metropark for some ecotherapy. Even though I drive right past the Brecksville Reservation on the way to my friend’s house, I’d never taken the time to go in and see what it was like. From the entrance, I drove a few miles on a winding road through beautiful woods that were shrouded in a light mist from the rain that had been falling all day long.  Just around one of those bends I came upon Chippewa Creek, where I was thrilled to see a collection of stone cairns in the water near the road.

Stone cairns in the river at Brecksville Reservation, Ohio.
Stone cairns in the creek at Brecksville Reservation, Ohio.

Obviously I’m not the only person who enjoys walking in a shallow river. I often see rock cairns along hiking paths, but this is the first time I’ve seen them in the water. Notice the one on the right with five stones balanced on each other. Clearly that took some time and patience to find the right rocks and get them balanced properly. And although I know some people disapprove of the practice of building these cairns, I think these are very pretty and I hope to get a chance to visit that spot again. I’d like to take some time to just sit and look at these, listening to the sounds of the water flowing between the lovely wooded banks.

So in this month of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for these three rivers that have been an unexpected bonus in the fabric of my new life. Although the vastness of Lake Erie is never far from anyone’s mind in northern Ohio, I’ve found a stronger connection to these winding ribbons of water that snake through the endless farm fields. I look forward to spending much more time exploring and contemplating each of them in the months to come. Who knows what kind of inspiration might be lurking in that moving water?

A river, though, has so many things to say that it is hard to know what it says to each of us.   — Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It


  1. Hello Kim,
    I surfed on your blog, from a google search on carine stones.
    I came to this photo…..Stone cairns in the creek at Brecksville Reservation, Ohio.
    Since I am FROM, OHIO…. I had to jump to your blog and read.
    The sort of odd thing was, the google link brought me to your main page,
    and I had to scroll down to see the rock photo. After I saw this photo… I scrolled back
    to the top and just kept reading each entry. I was so touched by your honest sharing
    of emotions. THEN I came to a post with YOUR SISTER DEB. OMG, of course I had
    to stop and leave a comment. 🙂
    Another thing, I have to comment on is the fridge mantra… FIND THE JOY !!!
    Over the years, (I am 58 years old) I have often used index card words of encouragement
    to myself. Affirmations I say that I use to keep myself ON track. ❤
    AND I did not even KNOW your name, till I read it in the comments here.
    ANOTHER thing that stands out…. This Stone cairn post is one you posted on
    my wedding anniversary. Mine and my DH's 20th to be exact.
    I also love birds and photography. JUST as a hobby that photography, NOT like I am
    any sort of pro at it. To be honest… I am not even certain about my wordpress blog that my name is signed in to. I am NOT a regular blogger. LOL.
    I am a REGULAR on Pinterest though. Here's a link to my place on Pinterest.
    I would also like to say to you…. the word ~*~ BRAVE ~*~ comes to mind in reading
    your life progress so far. You are ONE BRAVE woman. My first marriage lasted
    16 years and ended in late 1994. I call that 'my other life'. ❤
    So here's to STRONG, BRAVE women !!! Here's to moving forward
    and blazing a new life story. Here is TO YOU !!!! WELL DONE, Kim. !!!!!!!


  2. Kim what a stunning area you live in and so many rivers to explore. I would be happy too. Walking along and discovering what each spot has to offer. Your photos are so calming and I enjoyed the tour. Thanks.


  3. What a tranquil post, Kim… I can almost hear the gentle sound of water in your narration. I too am drawn to water (Cancer the crab ya know!) and find it to be a soothing experience most times I am around it. I hiked to the river last week and ventured over to the old river channel on my way home. I found stagnant water in it, but it was really a beautiful sight… green plant life in and around the channel, along with the colorful fall leaves of trees all along the banks, it was a stunning visual. The bank was covered in fallen leaves… it was tranquil. I did not see any wildlife that afternoon, but oh how I enjoyed the quiet and beauty. I’m so glad you find happiness and gratefulness in your excursions in, over and around areas of water. Ecotherapy is a wonderful thing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well I LOVE rivers too although I’ve not often lived near them in my life. They are such soothing sights. I found the stones balanced very interesting. I’ve never seen them in water before. I imagine the lakes of Michigan would have been amazing too when you lived there. Beautiful photos, Kim.


  5. Pretty shots of the rivers Kim. I laughed when I saw the three river title. I have just finished a book on the early WV coal strikes(1903)and trying to get unions in, and it took place in Morgantown, Clarksburg and Pittsburgh. The three rivers which I grew up around were mentioned and I realized that Three rivers stadium was named for them. (I have it as a question for our games we play at Christmas. So you are getting familiar with those rivers near you but better brush up on the three rivers here! LOL)


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