I. He grew up urban near Halsted Street across from Kickapoo Woods through which ran a tributary to the Little Calumet River. As a kid, he ran Indian wild through those musical woods,
II. along the banks and dreamed of paddling birch bark canoes he read about and saw pictures of in his grandmother’s Encylopedia of views.
III. The Grand Kankakee Marsh, once God’s renewable pantry, half a million acres, which nourished and fed with flora and fauna the Potawatomi
IV. for months at a time and then the Europeans came with their philosophy, noble history, scientific efficiency, burgeoning commerce and economy, plundered for progress and prosperity.
V. Lake Macatawa, Black Lake, the lake of the Ottawa Indians filled with fish for the people and, then the Europeans, Dutch religious separatists to be specific, following, of course, what they believed to be God’s purpose, drained the swamp, made farms, were fruitful and multiplied the silt which flowed into the dark lake darkening it from the inside.
VI. Bogs Island was a criminal hide-out on Beaver Lake in the Great Kankakee Marsh – a singular sign of prosperity on the make. Corruption following progress progressed into the pristine swamp. Greed in the guise of prosperity continued to draw swampy politicians on the take, who drained, near the Great Lakes, the then greatest inland lake .
VII. The prosperity of the once mosquito ridden Black Lake, brought crops and food for the new inhabitants and they knelt in devotion and holy admiration while the Ottawa headed to northern habitats.
VIII. All seemed providentially well in the Kankakee Marshes for the seemingly inexhaustible birds, fish, fox, and the seemingly inexhaustible desires of hunting and fishing clubs and English starches, the swamp providing Chicago with food and decorative plumage for high society hunters headed to the fields called Marshall and the Gold Coast farces.
IX. Phosphorus flowed freely from the farms to the ever blackened Black River into Lakes Macatawa and Michigan, both native names facing desecration’s arrow laden quiver.
X. Drain the unsightly, unhealthy Kankakee Marsh with the monster steam dredge and sell the reclaimed land for forty times its original worth in dollars and cents. Illinois be damned said Indiana, dam it at Momence and remove the rock ledge; the capitalists are getting edgy about their leverage. .
XI. The blast at Momence didn’t drain what was then the resistant ditch, but there was a constant assault from farms and the corporate rich effluence flowing into the Black Lake, hopefully, they prayed, dark enough to be unnoticed and so it was as the unaware people prayed in their churches on the town square.
XII. A ninety-mile ditch, a scar upon the upper mid-west earth, a nod to regressive progress rebirth, the only thing missing upon the waters was the fire of an Ohio lake’s death before its miraculous rebirth.
XIII. Martha, the last passenger pigeon, passed over, before Phoenix would rise, never again was seen to hover.
XIV. Chicago found fish and fowl afar for many a downtown, upscale pad. “The marsh land is Mother Nature’s kidneys,” the woman said; the organ keeps rising from the parched, farmland dead of living thriving things, the liver shaped swamp is still celebrating.
XV. Every time it rains, they now know there have to be kidneys to filter and livers to clean the flow into the lake to make Black Lake flow a little bit less black in order to go.
XVI. The Kankakee, Potawatomi and the Ottawa listen to the songs of the swamps. The organs bellow. The Kickapoo hear the symphony which sounds so mellow. The first violin tunes up the musicians who listen
XVII. while the flora and the fauna who sit in the second balcony head back down stream to the seats nearest the orchestra’s watery, verdant valley.