Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back to the walk

On April 10th, I got on an Amtrak train heading east. I got off at a beautifully restored train station in Utica and rejoined the Walk for a Nuclear Free Future that day.
It has been quite the adventure, rejoining the walk after leaving it in Rochester. The scenery had changed greatly. I was out of Western New York and had entered the Mohawk Valley. Later, we were to walk into the Hudson River valley, which is where we are now. Unlike the Buffalo to Rochester experience, which took me through familiar territory, I had come to a part of the state that I really did not know well.
But there has been one common thread that has linked Western New York with these other parts of the state, which is the rivers. I have always been drawn to water. I remember that,on Saint Patrick's Day, we walked along the shores of the Niagara River to Niagara Falls. We were amazed and intrigued by the enormous volume of water flowing over the falls. Rainbows formed above the falls. It was a stunning sight.
When I rejoined the walk, we were walking along the Mohawk River and the Erie Canal. We crossed and recrossed the river on those bridges that I truly don't like! One of the most wonderful experiences of the walk occurred outside of Fonda, when we stayed at the Mohawk Community with Alice and Tom Porter. We ate traditional corn soup and mush (very yummy) and learned quite a bit about the Mohawk culture.
I was sad to leave the Mohawk Community, where I felt at peace. We were surrounded by the beautiful hills and waters of Central New York. I could see horses and cows and I could walk through the woods to a cold stream. It was good.
I have to admit that one of the reasons that I chose to rejoin the walk after having been away for two and a half weeks was to see the Hudson River. I had seen the Hudson many times through the windows of a train and I very much wanted to see it within touching distance, much as I had the Mississippi River when I participated in the Witness Against War walk in 2008.
The river was beautiful but I have learned that it is full of sorrow, much as the Niagara River is full of sorrow. Radioactive waste has been found in the Niagara River, byproducts of the Manhattan Project of the 1940s. This radioactive waste has been found all over Western New York: in Lewiston, West Valley, Tonawanda. It has resulted in birth defects and all sorts of cancers. In the Hudson River, we were told, there is radioactive waste resulting from the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.
We walked to the western shore of the Hudson River and could see the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the far shore. We all dropped to our knees, praying and crying. We cried for the river and for the children who would inherit this wounded earth. We cried for the victims of depleted uranium. Tears kept flowing for the damage that uranium mining does to the earth. Our tears fell for the harm that the heated water does to the fragile ecosystem of the Hudson River.
Water is life. That is probably why I am so attracted to it.
The walk is about to end. I will write more when I come home.
Bye bye for now.

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