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November, 2001

I & M Canal

Originally from Moments by Valerie, a collection of memories (1961-1983), written in 1986 and presented to Larry on their first anniversary.

Val with schnauzer puppies, 1964

Summer nights in Illinois are rarely too warm and we often took walks around town just to enjoy the weather. A favorite destination was a bridge over the Illinois-Michigan Canal, which was very old and often in poor repair, but had a convenient pedestrian walkway from which we could watch the barges and tugboats. The smell of the water was tinged with tar and oil but was not unpleasant, and the breeze was always slightly cooler along the canal. The black waves in the ever-churning water reflected all the lights in a dazzling array of white, yellow, orange, red and green. The passage of a boat would make a chaotic light show, providing interesting relief from the hypnotic effect of the usual water movements. There was also a special feeling to sitting unseen and observing a ship passing only a few feet below. It was rather like watching huge primeval monsters slither through their underground tunnels, with no sound but a quiet humming or slight splashing.