The Grand River, Jackson County

Joe Writes . . .

It’s been hard for us to get started this year – our mother is failing, among other family health issues – but we remain enthusiastic and will be out on the river next week and most weeks, I hope, until mid-October. The big news is that we now have email addresses attached to this blog. We’ve apparently had them for a year, truth be told, but didn’t know how to access them. If you see something you like, or want to join us on the river, or feel like contacting us for any reason whatsoever (unless we owe you money) you may reach us at and/or . Hope to see you on the river!

The Grand in Jackson County (a prose poem in progress)

Here near the river’s beginning,
upstream from the mill pond,
we bottom out in the muck
long before we reach the dreamed-of source
river nymphs dart under our bow
disappearing before proof can be had.

gr spider bridge july 24

♦     ♦     ♦     ♦     ♦

A year later I resume the quest
and at last explore the source,
permission required from a property owner
to launch onto this lake we all own.
Water could scarcely be cleaner than this
issuing from springs buried in the deep lake’s floor.

across grand lake

A low bridge stops us from entering the river
where it leaves Grand Lake to the north,
intended, I’m certain, as much to
keep paddlers from reaching the lake
as to provide safe passage across
the nascent river at its birth.

♦     ♦     ♦     ♦     ♦

At Loomis Road the river is small, more a creek,
and a high school long jumper, boy or girl,
could soar across, from bank-to-bank
if solid footing were to be found,
but that’s seldom the case on this day.
Later the river widens as we press on,


press on towards Vandercook Lake.
Other travelers briefly share our road,
paddlers and sunburned couples on tubes,
cradling cheap beer in floating coolers,
the kind of beer my dad bought on summer Sundays
so uninvited guests could not question his hospitality.

♦     ♦     ♦     ♦     ♦

Few are we who paddle, float and fish
this river we own, this river we love.
We make no demands on the Grand,
here near her source
and the journey is not easy
here where the journey begins.


At the end of her journey, at the Big Lake,
the river is overwhelmed by demands
for freighters must fill their holds
and pleasure boats promenade
the piers, but here unencumbered,
she gathers strength for her run.

– Joseph Neely, July 2017

This entry was posted in Environment, Michigan, nature, paddling, rivers, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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