Return to the River

The St. Lawrence River flowing past Keewaydin State Park in Upstate NY. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020

Like many of you, I’ve been striving to keep my family safe. We stayed home and only my husband and I went out for essentials while always wearing a mask. We took my daughter to the greenhouse once in May, but she fussed so much with her mask that we worried about bringing her places and needing to go into a store for access to a restroom.

We’re lucky in that we have a yard, a garden, and a trail in front of our home. I can only imagine how difficult it’s been, especially in the colder months, to be inside tiny apartments… Even with my blessings of private green spaces, my soul missed the river.

With warmer months, and our deep yearning for family and beloved places, we decided to encourage our daughter to practice mask wearing with some day trips closer to home. The previous weekend, we returned to the St. Lawrence River by way of Keewaydin State Park. It was like a homecoming or a pilgrimage.

An oak tree over a still section of the Otter Creek Preserve. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020

This weekend, we went to the Otter Creek Preserve. It’s a beautiful tract of land conserved through the Thousand Islands Land Trust. The creek joins with the St. Lawrence River. Walking the trails was a fun way to visit with and learn from the land and waterways while also socially distancing from others. No masks required until encountering other people or visiting the bathroom after!

My feet in the St. Lawrence River in Alexandria Bay, NY. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020.

Putting my feet in the water and greeting the river has become a yearly sacrament. This is the lifeblood of the land. It shapes the ecosystems, history, and culture. For me, personally, the St. Lawrence River is a major source of spiritual and creative inspiration. My recent short story, “Invasives,” takes place in Clayton, NY, and the seaway plays a major roll in my upcoming novel, River Magic which is coming out in October through Shadow Spark Publishing.

I will be posting more about my novel and all the places in the 1000 Islands that inspired the story soon. In the meantime, I hope you are able to safely visit the sacred places that are dear to your heart.

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