I've spent many miles running and walking on the river path over the past few weeks. I grew up next to the Illinois River and then spent four years in college next to the Mississippi. Now I'm back and it brings memories of cross country workouts, college formals, and long bike rides. I actually had to swim in the Mississippi once to search for endangered mussels during my internship with the Fish and Wildlife Service, and it turned my white t-shirt brown. I don't think many people realize that the river doesn't really flow normally anymore; it's been made into a series of lock-and-dammed "pools" for navigational purposes and the original floodplain has been channelized and built up. If we let the river run its course the boot shaped delta of Louisiana probably wouldn't exist, and there wouldn't be any levees or floods to worry about. Rivers are supposed to flood their banks. Floods aren't a hazard until there are buildings and houses in the way. People will always try to live too close to the shore though, because we're all drawn to a waterfront.
Today is my last day of being 24 years old. I think I'm going to go for a run.