We are the river, and the river is us. We carry the same chemicals; pesticides and heavy metals, antibiotics and estrogen in our bloodstreams. From the Mekong River in Vietnam, where he served as platoon leader during the Vietnam War, to the Connecticut River near his farm in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, rivers have coursed through the life of Nathaniel Tripp. And as part of the Connecticut River Joint Commission, a bi-state advisory body made up of members from two states the river divides, Vermont and New Hampshire, he has gotten an education about rivers beyond any he could have imagined. He has worked with scientists, bureaucrats, politicians, lobbyists, property holders, and advocacy groups to balance federal, state, corporate, and individual interests.
This book is a true confluence of art and science, politics and pragmatism, ideas and plans for action. It highlights the ways in which rivers connect us all to one another. While our society has made great progress in terms of local environmental improvement, such as cleaner water, we’re still dodging the big issues, such as global warming. And it’s getting worse. We have lost the vision of our planet gained in 1969 when astronauts sent back photographs taken from the moon. Projects such as the restoration of the Atlantic salmon are politicized to become red herrings that divide us, and today’s runaway “free market” economy eschews long-term planning and marginalizes true environmentalism. The time is right for someone to remind us, in a clear and meaningful way, about the things that matter most. And Nathaniel Tripp does just that.
FOREWORD BY HOWARD DEAN
“Nat knows a lot. He knows a lot about fishing. He knows a lot about canoeing.
He knows people all along the Upper Connecticut. . . . Nat is an environmentalist, but he is a country environmentalist. He knows and coexists with the farmers, loggers and hunters who make their living in the beautiful land we saw by summer. . . . The trip down the Connecticut wasn’t just about fun and spending time with our kids. For Nat it was about the whole world . . . a whole world of rivers that didn’t flow straight to the sea anymore because of huge dams built to keep people comfortable in cities hundreds of miles away. People who would never see what they had done to the rivers Nat knew.”
—Howard Dean (from the foreword)
WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING:
"This is a powerful book...It will work on your psyche the way a really good poem does." --Valley News
"Short, elegant, & engagingly personal...deserves to be read in an afternoon & thought about long afterward." -New York Review of Books
"Read this excellent little book, then send it to your congressman."
--William Least Heat-Moon, author of River Horse
“Not since I canoed down the Noatak in Alaska have I enjoyed a river trip as much as this one, though vicariously, of Tripp doing the Connecticut with Howard Dean and friends – it is an engaging account that seamlessly braids history, politics, the law, and ecology, not to mention a baby bunny, into one hell of a fine read.”
—Bernd Heinrich, author of Winter World
“This is an important book about seeing the main current amid the frothy rapids. Its author is not just sharp, he’s wise, and therefore often troubled, but also always redeemed. Staring into one body of water he sees reflected back the world, as it is and as it ought to be.”
– Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nathaniel Tripp’s Vietnam memoir, Father, Soldier, Son, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He has also written children’s books and produced films and television shows about nature and science. Shortly after returning from Vietnam, he produced the first “public service” television advertisements about the environment for the Sierra Club and the National Audubon Society. He has lived on a Northeast Kingdom hill farm in Vermont since 1973 and is married to author Reeve Lindbergh. Along with part-time farming, he has an interest in local railroading and tourism and is founder of the St. Johnsbury Railroad Heritage Society.