Summer rain pelted my face as I stood on my pedals, flying down the gravel trail alongside the I&M Canal. For one moment, boom, the whole knotted mess just fell away — the virus, the masks, the mango Lord of the Lies, everything — and I was just a kid on a bike going through the woods in far southwest Channahon. Gliding through green leaves, past great blue herons and angular waterways that were part of history yet also right there.
Or more precisely, I realized it was gone. That somehow the door to my electronic cage had swung open and I had slipped back into the living world. It took a bit of groping to reconstruct regular life: each day a carbon copy of the day before, walking the dog, meals, work, sleep, rinse, repeat.
”Please let us know if you would be interested in images or if you would like to speak with Robin Malpass regarding the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Area,” is how they put it.
How about, I countered, we explore the area together? Like most men, I had a hidden agenda — to clap eyes on the I&M Canal, the pathway that led baby Chicago on its first tottering steps from being a few hovels clustered around the pointy log stockage of Fort Dearborn to the sprawling, skyscrapered, dynamic, carnival of a metropolis — on summers other than this one that is — we know and love.
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