Today’s Miles: 19.3
Total Miles: 2,967.1
Idstein, Germany – November 24, 2016
The day is nondescript, hills and trees, and no one who celebrates Thanksgiving. It’s an American holiday and I’m in the middle of Germany.
My mind drifts to the past, back to the only other Thanksgiving I’ve ever spent in the midst of a long-distance adventure, back to Memphis, Tennessee.
There will be no two turkeys tonight. One fried, one baked. No table of pies. No melted butter on mashed potatoes. No bacon-wrapped anything. Nerf the pug won’t scamper across the dining room floor. Marjorie, Frank, and Joseph won’t welcome me into their home like family even though I was just a stranger drifting down the river. But the memories still make me smile.
I remember that river too, the mighty Mississippi, flowing with water from thirty-one states, drifting past Memphis like an endless ribbon of mud. Breathing up and down the banks with the seasons. I follow the river north in my mind, upstream, back to St. Louis, back to the silver arch and the junction where the Missouri’s flow joins the current south.
I remember peering up the Missouri as the waters swirled together, imagining all the streams and creeks joining one by one somewhere far away at the feet of the rocky mountains.
Every day as I moved south, the water felt more mixed with the things we’d dumped into it along the way. The little spills. The drained fields. The runoff and broken pipes. The mistakes. By then end, I didn’t want to touch the water.
I think of the river now, that branch joining the flow north of St. Louis, the Missouri, as I walk on Thanksgiving thousands of miles away. Somewhere far up that river, in the cold of winter along the border of North and South Dakota there are people fighting for that water, for their water, for our water, the same water that flows past Memphis and on to New Orleans.
They are there, as America sits down for turkey, as I stroll across Europe on a whim, standing courageous against militarized police, being maced, breathing tear gas, getting shot with rubber bullets and sprayed with hoses as the temperature drops far below freezing.
I don’t claim to know all the details of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the people putting their lives on the line to stop it, but I know enough to know where I stand. I stand with the water that once carried me to Memphis for Thanksgiving. I stand with the people protecting it. I stand with Standing Rock.
You should too.
Sign petitions. Make phone calls. Donate. And learn more. http://standwithstandingrock.net/