I’ve been sort of groggy/grouchy ever since Sunday morning, for no particularly good reason. I do know I woke up in a good mood Sunday, and then I read about Asian carp threatening the Great Lakes, and that began my downslide to where I now find myself, which is somewhere between irritable and angry. According to the Detroit Free Press, “Asian carp have closed within 50 miles of Lake Michigan and turned large sections of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers into carp havens where little else can survive.” These fish, apparently, take over any water system they enter until they make up 97% of the waterlife. “In 1990, for instance, biologists netted no Asian carp when they sampled the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Ten years later, Asian carp made up 97% of a massive fish kill in a Mississippi slough south of St. Louis. Asian carp were first seen in the Bath area about five years ago, but now represent 90% of the fish.”
The Great Lakes are currently in a precarious position, and while Carl Levin (my favorite senator, I used to volunteer for him in high school) has been working for years to develop barriers to Asian carp entering Michigan waters, but of course legislation is tied up in Congress, like this is something to ponder, something to consider before moving on too hastily. What’s more, these fish are, like, prehistoric AND alien fish, large and silver and they LEAP out of the water at you if their habitat is disturbed. Most recently one fisherman had his nose broken when his boat disturbed a school of Asian carp and they flew through the air at his face. Those, my friends, are some scary fish. Can you imagine our lakes overrun with them? Again, according to the Free Press:
If the carp do reach the Great Lakes, most experts warn that the lakes will become giant carp ponds where other species, such as salmon, lake trout and walleyes, are starved out of existence. After colonizing the lakes, experts say, the carp would assault rivers and their tributaries.
This. Is. So.Depressing. I told S. we need to DO something, and he said, well, what? It’s not like every Michigan politician isn’t lobbying for the necessary funds to protect the lakes. They are. They are doing everything they can. The power players in our state our firmly on the right side of this issue. All we can do is hope Congress moves more quickly and loosens the pocketbook to create the necessary barriers.
I know it’s ridiculous to let one article effect my mood, but I’m also reading A Walk in the Woods, and while it is entertaining, chapter after chapter chronicles the destruction of the Appalachian Trail habitat, the horrific living conditions in surrounding communtities, the extinction of plants, the complete obliteration of several different kinds of trees, and each night I set this book down earlier and earlier. I’m not feeling particularly well-equipped, this week, to contemplate all of this.
I think I’d be a lot better if I could walk, but you see, I live in a suburb without sidewalks, a suburb made up of TGIFriday restaurants, nail salons, video stores and drug stores. My condo (rented, let me hastily add) looks like everybody else’s condo, and our condos are the same color as the surrounding homes, so my subdivision looks like something out of The Truman Show. Unless I want to walk on extremely busy and dangerous roads, I can’t just walk out my door and go for a jaunt. Until now I’ve always had the ability to just walk my bad mood off, and I particularly remember doing this in Alpena throughout my growing up. I knew if I walked long enough and far enough my bad mood would fall away and be replaced with a firm belief that at its core, the world is beautiful. I could walk along miles of Lake Huron shore, or take paths through various parks, wander through the cemetary, or go along the Thunder Bay river. And in the subsequent places I lived I could walk as well, until I moved here, to suburbia. Why would you walk anywhere, here?
S. and I ridicule ourselves often for choosing the suburb we did, but we have also grown tired of packing up and moving every year, which we’ve done for most of our marriage. Until Detroit becomes affordable to students, moving there isn’t an option for us, and we also aren’t in a position to buy a home in any of the other little cities that surround Detroit. What we have, with our Popeye’s chickens and multitudinous malls, is an affordable and comfortable home in a little retirement village, where elderly women come complain to us about the price of ice cream and help me restore my plants while S. finishes law school with the goal of becoming an environmental lawyer.
Yesterday my malaise was worse than it is today, and after we commuted to our city and sat through an oil change, we arrived home to dreary skies and light rain. As we climbed out of the car, our arms heavy with mail and gym bags and laptop bags, we found piled near our porch a dozen fresh-picked tomatoes from Vera, our very pregnant neighbor. She must have been watching for us (we are such creatures of habit) because she opened her upstairs window, and her little daughter Vanessa opened another one, and they waved to us.
“You enjoy those!” She called, in her heavy Italian accent.
“Yes, enjoy,” five-year-old Vanessa echoed.
We tried to wave back, we hollered our thanks and appreciation, and S., happy after free produce and a quick oil change, looked at me and said “You know, this is why people live out here. It’s not for us in the long term, but it isn’t always, so bad.”
I am hoping to overcome my, whatever the heck this emotion is, by Friday, when Sam and I will make cappellini pomodoro from fresh suburban tomatoes, enjoy a bottle of wine, and relax in our appropriately-taxed, centrally-heated, ridiculously far-from-where-we-work condominium, perhaps not able to go for an easy walk after dinner but at least, not obsessed with our foreign fish problem for the evening.