The River(s) in Spring

[Today’s blog is written by guest blogger and SDNC volunteer Butch Wittaker, who grew up in the area and has watched the river in all its seasons for many years.]

It is not quite spring here in our area, but the robins are back, and summer is near. And, looking the other day at the Kishwaukee River and its flooded state, I began thinking about the life that is going on under the water.

We often only see what is directly in front of us. When you look at a river that is flooded you see water; perhaps we see only the damage that it causes, but maybe we should adjust our sight.

Consider the river as its own world, because it is. We move fast and have little time for anything other than ourselves, but when we need a break from work, school, or the stress of it all, we might say, “I need some fresh air,” and we step outside. Do you wonder why we say that?

While you are considering that, let’s look back at the world of the river.

Brook Stickleback ( Culaea inconstans  ) - image from  Wikipedia

Brook Stickleback (Culaea inconstans ) - image from Wikipedia

Do you know that during this flood stage there are a lot of things going on? There are species of fish that are preparing to mate, some of which you might never see if you don’t go looking for them before the water is back in its bank. We have a little fish called a stickleback that is one of them. They don’t necessarily like cold water, but they can get caught in pools once the flood water begins to recede I used to catch them with seine nets when I was young. By the time March ends, for instance, the channel catfish will be biting readily on night crawlers.

The river is not only alive, but is awakening all of nature around it. Whatever you are doing today, take time to go outside, or at least look out a window, and find nature somewhere, because it’s there and it’s not boxed in by walls or schedule. The box elder bugs are telling us that spring is here. Maybe you will see nature in the form of early blooming flowers - some are blooming already. Or maybe you will see something that is just a little different, like the ringed-bill gulls I saw recently at Sports Score. Nature is alive and well, and it’s out there just waiting for us to come and find it - so go find it!