The Mississippi River: A favorite place to visit

Lori Freudenberg

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce Community Image Task Force has challenged our citizens to remember that we live in a wonderful community; we are blessed with a great many assets to be thankful for! 

 However, we often don’t appreciate what we have. In order to draw attention to all our community has going for it, the task force put together a list of themes for each month of 2015 and asked different people to write an editorial based on each theme. In honor of this month’s theme, “The Local Spot I Have Waited ALL Winter to Revisit,” I will remind us of one of Clinton’s greatest assets, one that too many take for granted. 

The winter beauty of the Mississippi River is breathtaking. As she covers herself with her blanket of snow and ice, it’s like she’s hibernating, waiting to awaken as we all wait to re-awaken with spring. We are entertained on these brisk, cold days by the screech of the eagles as they fly overhead, swoop down to retrieve their meal, and then fight with the hawks over their catch. The mist that rises from the slowly moving water as the air temperature warms or cools, creates a magical serenity — a serenity that each of us can achieve when we take the time to pause in our daily rush, to appreciate what we have right here in Clinton.

Oh — but summer! Summer on the Mississippi River is worth the wait. The soft breeze rising from the swiftly moving currents, the sound of the waves as they lap up the banks, the reflection of the sun as it dances along the surface — this is what we’ve been waiting for!

I can’t wait to get out in our boat again, to enjoy friends on our way to dinner in our favorite restaurants on the river. I can’t wait to feel the breeze blow through my hair as we speed along the glassy surface. I can’t wait to ride the wave runner — jumping over the waves made by the barges — laughing as we get soaked when we land. I can’t wait to kayak through the water lilies, see the turtles sunning themselves on a log, watch the water bugs as they skittle to and fro just below the surface, and listen to the bullfrogs sing at night. I can’t wait to see the fishermen as they race through the water to their favorite spot, to see them bring up their catch of the day. I can’t wait to see LeClaire’s Twilight and hear the calliope music echoing from her decks. I can’t wait to see the barge traffic again. I can’t wait to see the American Queen as it visits Clinton five times this year!

The Mississippi River is one of the world’s major river systems in size, habitat diversity, and biological productivity, according to the National Park Service. It is the third longest river in North America, flowing 2,350 miles from its source at Lake Itasca through the center of the continental United States to the Gulf of Mexico. And it’s right here in our backyard.

In an interview with Mark Twain in The Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1886, he stated: “It is strange how little has been written about the Upper Mississippi. The river below St. Louis has been described time and again, and it is the least interesting part. One can sit on the pilot-house for a few hours and watch the low shores, the ungainly trees and the democratic buzzards, and then one might as well go to bed. One has seen everything there is to see. Along the Upper Mississippi every hour brings something new. There are crowds of odd islands, bluffs, prairies, hills, woods and villages — everything one could desire to amuse the children. Few people ever think of going there, however. ... As we form our opinions of our country from what other people say of us, of course we ignore the finest part of the Mississippi.”

I couldn’t agree more. We have so much to love about our portion of the Mississippi River. It’s a beautiful, ever-changing, resource from which we can derive so much pleasure. I can’t wait to get back to it.

What are you waiting to revisit? Write in and let us know.