A River Runs Through It

By Tim Whitaker
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 20, 2007

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When our city streets turn moist and steamy like they have this week, we instinctively think of ways to blow off work and get to the beach.

It matters little that shore traffic's wretched or that the sun turns skin to gator hide or that a week in Tahiti is probably cheaper than a long weekend in Avalon.

The salt air and ocean breezes seduce us.

Like crack, there is no enough. Too much is not enough.

Throw in a seductive chaser, like ending a beach day with a couple of Yuenglings and the Phillies on a plasma TV and the Baby Jesus himself might just as well roll in with the morning tide and take us home.

But we gather here this week not to speak of the wonders of the Atlantic Ocean.

Its blessings are many; its relationship with this city already well told.

Instead let us pause to honor the body of water that lives among us, the neighbor whose fate is inextricably tied to how we behave, the needy tributary for which there is sadly nowhere near the same kind of adoration.

That would be the flowing water that slices right through our city.

The waterway that provides us workmanlike relief from the heat.

The 100-mile-plus historical river that receives no fanfare yet gives us our finest natural views of the city, a place to row boats and hold regattas with a trail along its bank for walking and running and blading.

A backdrop and setting for watching the sun melt and the moon smile.

That would be the Schuylkill River. It does all that.

In return for what it has given, it's been assaulted, dumped on and deemed dirty and foul by those who made it dirty and foul.

It's become a tired Philadelphia joke, a punching bag.

Imagine what's floating in it. Imagine swimming in it.

Is it true that we're actually drinking it?

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