Text from a radio piece made for rivers&bridges by: Tom Sherman
Hear a short Real Audio exerpt

I'm sitting on the bank of the Broad River, at it's mouth, where it emties into the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic is calm this morning, as flat as a mirror: the sky is clear and the sea reflects the sky. The Broad River runs strong and wide and dark - it has been a rainy summer. The tide is high and the mix of fresh and salt water floods the lagoon behind the dunes.

A lone cormorant fishes in the strong current - northern terns dive for herring further out. A stiff breeze keeps the black flies and mosquites down, but the deerflies are stronger and they are hunting for warm blood. These green-eyed flies inflict a nasty bite within a few seconds of landing. Once they find your scent, they are relentless.

The only way to get across the Broad River without getting wet is to walk across the railroad trestle. They pulled the tracks out in the early 1980's, and the train no longer runs, but the timber trestle still bridges the river. It serves as a footbridge and the young people use it as a diving platform. The spirit here is jumping or diving off the trestle into the river below.

The trestle is 3 metres above the surface of the river at high tide. The trestle is about a 25 metre walk across the river.

This wooden trestle links the white sand beach with the rocky forrested shore.

It divides the beach area from the clam flats and the lagoon - the place where the fresh and the salt water pool. The wetland where the cormorant, seagulls, black ducks and the great blue herron spend their days, rain or shine.


I'm speaking to you from the south shore of Nova Scotia.

I'm sitting on the south bank of the Broad River at low tide. Here the Broad River meets the Atlantic Ocean at the end of a long white sand beach. The river water is reddish-brown, burgandy, as it pours into the deep blue sea. The darker fresh water spreads, staying on top. The salt water is heavier and today it is much colder.

I've crossed the river by walking across the railroad trestle. The train doesn't run anymore, bit the trestle still serves as a footbridge. It's still pretty solid, but there are more and more rotten timbers. In the summer, when the river is warmed by the sun, the young people love to jump or dive off the trestle, showing off their courage and creating a little excitement for themselves and their parents.

When the tide is low and the river is full, after rain, the water under the bridge is mostly fresh. Deep, dark and warm. When it's high tide the Atlantic fills the mouth of the river and then the salty river spills over into the lagoon behind the dunes. Yesterday there were shools of small silver fish in the river at high tide. I saw a cormorant diving for his dinner, repeatedly, sucessfully - more times than not. And there were lots of jellyfish just under the surface, floating up river into the lagoon. Dark lion's mane's, the size of dinner plates, with tentacles flowing like long hair at their sides and trailing behind.

Out beyond the mouth of the river, straight out in the ocean beyond the sandbars, about a dozen northern tern dive for herring in the deep blue sea. Their schrill cries pierce the wind. they speak from the mouth of the river. It's bright and clear. I can see the islands and the waves breaking over the rocks that interrupt the horizon line. I can hear the sound of the dry air meeting the sea.


The lion's mane jellyfish float into the bay in considerable numbers during the hottest part of the summer. Right when the water warms up and the swimming is best, the large dark reddish-brown vellyfish dot the surface of the ocean. If there are waves you can easily see them rolling in the surf. As the tide goes out, hundreds of them are left stranded on the shore, where they die in the sand.

In the river they're hard to spot. As colours go, they match the colour of the Broad River when the sun is high. They float with the current, first flowng up the river with the tide, then going back out to the sea when the river gains the upper hand as the ocean recedes. On a bright day the river is almost black and if you want to swim, you will have to swim without a fear of the lion's mane. You have to trust you won't get stung. The local people are fearless when it comes to jellyfish. The tourists, they stay on their towels or swim very close to the rivers edge.


There's a story about Janet Hurdle, when she was a girl, that she dove off the trestle right into a big lion's mane and got stung real bad on her chest and thighs. She swam in in a panic and walked out of the water crying and screaming and luckily there was a doctor on the sandy bank and he picked her up in his arms and carried her to his car and rushed her to the hospital. She had some trouble breathing until they gave her some injections and she developed some ugly blisters, red with white, but she was allright. Janet Hurdle was stung 35 or 40 years ago. News of her misfortune is still-a-buzz every summer when the lion's mane come up the Broad River with the tide.


sound of ocean


Back home in Michigan, our town is divided, northside and southside, by the Manistee River. It's a big, strong, dark river. The town of Manistee is connected by two draw-bridges, downtown at Marple Street, and over where the highway, M-31, runs through the town. When a big boat proceeds through the channel, the warning bells sound and the draw-bridges go up slowly, first one and then the other, and the people have to wait in their cars for as long as it takes for the boats to clear. Years ago, a woman who lives in town, alone in her car, was in a hurry and tried to cross the Marple Street Bridge just as it starting to go up. And she panicked and drove off the side of the bridge and plummeted straight down into the deep river. Her car went straight to the bottom and she was drown. Hours later, when they pulled that car out of the river and recovered the woman's body, the big crowd that gathered saw that the young woman wasn't wearing any underwear. My mother was there int that crowd that day and she told me always wear underwear, clean underwear, whenever I left the house - because you never know when something embarrassing might happen.