Thursday, December 03, 2009
A Mid-Michigan Advent, Day 5: Waiting
In our little town we have been waiting since the end of August for...our lake.
That's when the local lake, the centerpiece of our community, was drained in order for engineers to work on the old, crumbling city dam.
It was a shock, getting into the car one morning and driving a couple blocks down the street to find a huge muddy hole on either side of the bridge. The jagged ends of long submerged tree stumps poked up through the sludge. Seagulls, herons, egrets and even a family of bald eagles gathered to feast on the easy pickings left in what few streams of water were still flowing across the lake bed. After a couple of days a mighty, eye-stinging stench arose -- which we later found out was being caused by countless dead zebra mussels, those hated foreign invaders of first the Great Lakes and now our inland waters.
Many citizens were annoyed that this project began just before Labor Day, especially because our lake is a big draw for sport fishing. But the dam needed to be fixed, and the city had the funds to do it, so people sighed and shrugged and went about their business.
A month passed. Then another. The odor went away. Many of the birds went away. The lake bed had become dry enough for people to walk on parts of it, and local officials encouraged lakeshore property owners and concerned others to venture out onto the mud and pick up trash that had been discarded in the lake over the years -- cans; glass; fishing gear. One citizen even found an old half-buried canoe near his home.
Everytime we drove over the bridge, we'd look to see if the water was beginning to rise again; but all we saw were the mud flats, criss-crossed by shallow ditches.
We heard that the dam was due to be finished in November. But November came and went, and there was still no water.
The latest news, according to the local paper, is that the dam project is 90 percent completed. The engineers involved promise not only a safer dam but a better, cleaner environment for fish.
That's good news. But it's still jarring, and disappointing, to look out on the incongruous sea of mud next to our city park all decked out for the holidays.
Sometimes that's how it feels looking at the world, at the news, and waiting for a time when righteousness is at home.