Except no, I'm not. It's true that I had a great lunch with an old grad-school friend on Monday and went on a snowy hike with the grandson on Tuesday morning, but since Tuesday afternoon I've been tethered to a box of tissues and bumbling around through a haze of antihistamines. Why do I have to get sick just when things start getting interesting?
Wednesday was a total loss. On Thursday I felt energetic enough to go to my office (where the heat was working, unlike at home, where the temperature hovered just over 60 degrees all day) and worked very hard for a few hours and then came home and collapsed.
Today I needed to restock my supply of tissues but I didn't want to go all the way to Marietta, so I headed a few miles up the Muskingum to my namesake town of Beverly and tried not to sneeze all over the grocery store. But the weather was gorgeous and I was determined to stay outside and enjoy the crisp sunshine, so I drove a little further upriver, past the defunct coal-fired power plant that's slowly being disassembled, and turned left on the pot-holiest highway in the county to visit the Luke Chute Conservation Area, which I've driven past many times without ever stopping to see what's there.
What's there is a 60-acre plot criss-crossed with trails that run down a ravine, through woods and grassland, down to the river and alongside a creek. I heard song sparrows and flickers accompanied by the constant roar of water crashing over the low-head dam, and I saw water swirling past an island and puffy white clouds marching across the sky, accompanied by steam from the natural-gas-fired power plant on the hill across the river.
It was impossible to walk far, though, without being aware that around here conservation is necessarily linked with reclamation. Around the edges of the conservation area are ruins of abandoned buildings, and even the deep woods provide ample evidence that the area was long inhabited by residents who suffered no qualms about tossing their beer cans and old appliances over the edge of a ravine.
Luke Chute Conservation Area is managed by the Friends of the Lower Muskingum River, a group I recently joined because I've been an unofficial friend of the Muskingum for nearly 20 years and I thought it was high time to make our friendship official. It's clear that they have a big job on their hands "protecting and restoring land in the lower Muskingum watershed," and when they gear up again this spring, I'm looking forward to lending a hand.
But first I've got to get over this cold. Excuse me while I sneeze a few dozen times. (Good thing germs don't travel over the Internet.)
|Trees bring beauty even in gray winter.|
|The path down the ravine.|
|Seriously, who thinks this is a good idea?|
|Power plant just visible in the upper right corner.|
|Luke Chute dam|
|Who does this? Why?|
|Pipe sticking up in the middle of woods. No idea.|
|The ruins of....something. Again, no idea.|