Tonight, I stepped into the Quinnipiac River in Plainville, a few miles from where it starts. Standing there, where the water is only four feet wide and ankle deep, I thought about the past two years that I have spent photographing this river. I’ve flown over it, and hiked along its banks. I have traversed much of it by kayak or canoe, and crawled over countless logs that blocked the way. Living at the other end, in New Haven’s Quinnipiac River Historic district, I have raced out to catch lightning, sunsets, and snowstorms over the river.
Now I end this journey at the beginning. As the river gently pushes past my feet, I notice how small and clean it is here. Gazing downstream, I know that soon, in the coming miles, this little river will be injected with sewage, pumped with chemicals, littered in, filled with parking lot runoff and groundwater leeching from the 25 million tires that lay buried along its edges. Perhaps because my 14-month-old son is with me, I feel a paternal sort of protection for this waterway. I am sorry for what it will endure as it passes through the hands of man. And I am struck by the sad contrast of these abuses with all the beauty and good I have seen on this river.
My hope for this exhibit is that you will see the Quinnipiac in a similar way - as a place to appreciate and a place to protect. There are many of us that have brought harm to this waterway over the hundreds of years we’ve used it, but today even more of us can bring cleaning and restoration to the river.I step back on the bank and shake the water from my feet. The evening light leaves the trees and I leave the Quinnipiac with the hope that this river, who has born the heavy burden of our disregard, will now benefit from our care and consideration.