This past weekend, May 9-10, at the Green Man Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, we celebrated “Streams and Waterways.” This was the same motif as the environmental theme of my new novel, Canoedling in Cleveland, in which my teenage characters canoe down the dead Cuyahoga River in Cleveland in 1960, which has no fish, shorebirds or waterfowl. The water is so polluted that Lori, and Randy wonder what would happen to them if they fell into it (would they die like the fish did?).
The Cuyahoga River, which infamously caught fire thirteen times (oil on the river burned), became the poster child of the Clean Water Act of 1972, the subject of the Randy Newman song, “Burn On,” and a stimulus for the first Earth Day. This year’s festival,”Celebrating Our Streams and Waterways,” tied in well with my novel, and we were pleased to distribute copies of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park brochure: “Cuyahoga River Recovers” (our thanks to the National Park Service for the brochures). Both attendees and exhibitors were interested in this success story—including people currently battling to Save The [Chesapeake] Bay and the Anacostia, Potomac, and Susquehanna Rivers.
My fictional trio also paddled on Lake Erie, which in 1960 had bacteria levels so high near Cleveland that all the beaches were closed to swimming. That made Jeff, Lori, and Randy unhappy with the “A-people”—the adults who polluted the water [me too. I grew up near Cleveland, and couldn’t swim in the lake!]. Now, the beaches are open for swimming on most days.
Old Town Bowie [MD] Spring Fling – May 2
Riverdale Park [MD] Arts Fest – May 3
The weather, bands, vendors, and food were great at the Riverdale Park Arts Fest, but traffic was comparably light—except for the CXS freight trains that shrieked and roared and rattled by every hour or so.