By Kat O’Brien, Education Intern


Photo Matt Shaw

In fifth grade, my entire class had to make a map of New York State. We had to draw the entire state on a huge piece of white paper and label all of the important parts; Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, Mohawk River, major cities, and, of course, the Hudson River. I remember looking at that map and thinking, “There is no way that this river goes so far up.” It was the river I would see when I was driving over the Bear Mountain Bridge when I went to see my grandmother. It was the river I was told never to swim in. It was just a river and I never thought of it as anything special or huge, because it was kind of just there. All people ever talked about was how gross it was and driving across it. I was taught all about it, but never in a positive light. I was taught that fishing in the river was bad, and swimming in the river was bad, and I ended up having a very skewed view of the Hudson.

The Hudson is so much more than just a river. And when I wake up each morning onboard the sloop Clearwater and walk on deck, my breath is always taken away. One night I slept in the mast and woke up before wake ups. I just lay in my sleeping bag and watched the river for an hour. I could not go back to sleep because I was too excited about our first batch of students for the season coming onboard and teaching them all about why the Hudson is beautiful. I starred at our beautiful river and vowed to share my love and appreciation with them, so they will not grow up thinking that the Hudson is gross and unapproachable. I watched ducks swim around our dock, and the water slowly moving, and the air bubbles coming up from fish I could not see. I saw the river as a living, breathing organism. She breathes, she moves, and she gives life to so many creatures.

Living on the river gives you a perspective not many people get to have. The Hudson becomes your life. When I go home now, all I can talk about is the beauty of the Hudson. All I can think about is what other awesome things I can teach the kids. All I dream about is hauling line, and sometimes I will roll out of bed to go do that… oops! My goal on the Clearwater is to teach people that the Hudson is so much more than it used to be. I vow to never let anyone see the Hudson the way young Kat saw it. The Hudson is our home, our life, and our responsibility.