The 2021 Songs of the Susquehanna project drew 46 original song submissions inspired by the river, inspiring nearly 200 people to cast 1,152 "votes" to help us decide which of those songs made our final playlist. One of the most popular songs across the board has been "Return to Blue" by Johanna Kodlick. Below, she shares her story of the sad COVID-laced inspiration behind the song and the therapy she found along our waterways.
In March of 2020 things turned dark.
One week after the COVID lockdown went into effect; my father called and said he needed help. He knew his health had taken a turn for the worse, and he could no longer stay at home alone.
As the white hearse quietly rolled away at dawn, the eagle watched over protectively, and then flew with him along the creek, showing him the way.
Veiled in great heartache, I went to Mother Nature for answers.
In the summer, while kayaking on the Susquehanna River with my sister, the eagle showed up again and we knew it was dad letting us know he was with us.
By the fall, I was still aching, and doing my best to function. I continued to return to the river for peace, often with my daughter. One day at the river’s edge, my daughter sensed my anguish and tension and urged me to Just. Sit. Down. Meditate, and feel the spirit of Mother Nature, the river, the sky, the eagle. She was right.
Now it is winter, and while I still grieve, just like so many of us during this odd time of COVID, I am at last hopeful.
Thanks to the wisdom shown to us all by Mother Nature, I know that, particularly with the coming of spring, this darkness will turn to light. From discord, we will return to harmony. My heart will continue to heal.
And even when the sky is grey, it will always return to blue.
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.