Sunday, May 12, 2019

River, by Elisha Cooper

Been neglecting the blog again as I've had quite a bit going on both at work and in my personal life (mostly good, including some fun plans shaping up for another step in my post-cancer paddling skills redevelopment this coming June, but keeping me busy). But I did just want to do a quick post about a book that Orchard Publications (a Scholastic house, and in fact the one where I began my Scholastic career with an unexpected temp job in the chaotic days after 9/11 - I'm still so grateful that that happened!) is bringing out this Fall.

I'm just a tiny tiny tiny bit excited about this book by Elisha Cooper. It's a story about a woman doing a solo paddle down the Hudson River. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you will understand exactly why this just makes me smile from ear to ear just saying that - it reminds me so much of my own solo trip from Waterford to Brooklyn back in 2014. It doesn't come out until October, but when I found out about it, I was able to get an f&g* version, and seeing the glorious watercolors with which he's illustrated it just brought such good memories of my own Hudson voyage.  Mine was half the length of the trip in the book, of couse, but still one of the best things I think I've ever done for myself - I'd been wanting to do it for years and then one year everything just fell gloriously into place, so off went trusty Romany and I for a week on the river. Boy. The book actually has me wanting to go back and do it again, and maybe a little more next time.

There's an excellent interview with Elisha at the Mr. Schu Reads blog talking about the creation of River. This is going to be a great book for paddlers (especially Hudson River paddlers) to share with kids in their circles!

 Disclaimer: I work for Scholastic, but Frogma is a purely personal blog and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

*f&g = folded and gathered, it's one of the final proof versions of a picture book before it goes to press - it's basically the book printed as it's going to be but not bound yet, just the pages for last reviews before the final edition 


Haralee said...

The book does sound just like you except illustrations instead of your lovely photos! Very cool!!!

Rena said...

I would love to do that one day! Gotta read the book.

bonnie said...

It was a pipe dream for so many years - making it turn into reality was spectacular!

Beth Havey@Boomer Highway said...

I love that you support those who are also in love with rivers and traveling them. Would love to know if
you also discover whether our rivers are being cared for as they should. Thanks.

bonnie said...

Well, the Hudson River and New York Harbor have genuinely returned to life since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972. Pete Seeger and his Clearwater foundation were of course incredibly influential in people's caring for the Hudson, and the cleaner it got, the more recreational boaters (and even swimmers) got to be out there, and most of us sort of by default become people who stand up for the waters we love.

The local kayak community does a water quality testing program all summer and except for a few polluted hot spots, most of the locations meet swimming standards a lot of the time. Strong currents, boat traffic, and lack of access points mean that that hasn't led to a lot of swimming beaches beyond the ones that have been around for years (Coney Island, Jones Beach, etc), but there's a very active open-water swimming community and there are regular races and fun swims held. I do kayak support for some of those, it's a very cool bunch of people.

We also have this great program called the Billion Oyster Project that's working on returning oysters to the harbor. Not to eat, you wouldn't want to ingest any filter feeders from the harbor (although NY Harbor oysters used to be famous before the river got befouled), but oysters clean water better than just about anything else and the more there are, the better.

We have fish now although for many of them women of childbearing age are advised not to eat, and there are limits for other folks; I see seals now when I'm out kayaking almost every winter, and you can go whalewatching out of Riis Landing in Queens and see humpback whales and huge pods of dolphins.

People are getting over their fears of the local waters too - it used to be that when I told someone I was a paddler almost 100% of the initial responses were along the lines of "Oh, do you glow in the dark?". Now there's enough awareness of the improvements that I'm far more likely to get an "Oh, that's cool, I tried that once at (insert any of the numerous free kayaking programs run by not-for-profits around the city)".

However, there are still a lot of PCB's left over from the days when industries (specifically GE) dumped them into the river at will. There has been some dredging but there's much more to go. And the city's waste management system is antiquated, and we have these things called Combined Sewage Outfalls that just pour sewage straight into the water when rainfall gets beyond a level that the treatment plants can manage (hence the Citizen's Water Quality Testing project).

And of course the current administration would love to gut the Clean Water Act, and you can bet that there would be people ready to start Hudson dumping again given the chance. They would run into resistance but if the saving are enough a lot of corporations would just say "Damn the treehuggers, full speed ahead!"

bonnie said...

Oh, and one interesting thing that got to be a problem for people with old-school wooden piers to maintain - when the Hudson was dead, your wooden pilings would just last forever, but after the Clean Water Act, the marine borers came back!

here's a Gothamist article about one of our local waterfront parks dealing with the problem!

Beth Havey@Boomer Highway said...

Bonnie, thank you so much for sharing all of this with me. At one of the poles today it was 85 degrees. I don't understand the disregard for mother earth. Yes, men are greedy, but what about the can't pass anything along if it's dying! Your report is very hopeful and I congratulate you on what you are doing to make that happen. I live in California now and they are on top of things when we speak of water preservation. Yes, they are criticized for trying to preserve certain fish, but people don't understand that preserving one part of the system saves much more. Also, I was raised in Chicago and I do believe in past years they have done much more to clean up the Chicago River. But you would know more on that subject than I.

Thanks for all that you do, Beth