The River Speaks: Living and giving on the river
Suhas Kakde was raised in India, but brought up his own children here in Ohio. He decided to buy a house on the Little Miami River after reading an old National Geographic article that named it one of America’s most scenic rivers. Over the years, he’s taken countless photos of wildlife on the river. Now, he and his wife are donating 35 acres of their property so it can be conserved. Suhas shares his river stories with Hope Taft of the Little Miami Watershed Network.
Suhas Kakde said he's been living in the place where he and Hope Taft were sitting during the interview, next to the river, for the last 26 or 27 years. He fell in love. Suhas said he didn't spend five minutes inside the house he was about to buy. He walked the property, walked the trails and walked the river. To him, it was beautiful and fascinating
And so what are some of your fondest memories living here with the river so close?
The fondest of the memories would be walking along the river in the full moon night and hearing all sorts of insects and sometimes night birds. And there's a gathering of more and more coyotes around here, and sometimes they don't need a full moon night, but on a full moon night, they really get very loud.
And my most favorite experience on the little Miami River would be when I took my three daughters and we went canoeing. We had two Huskies, Siberian Huskies back then. I took my most expensive camera not knowing what could happen in the river, and I lost the camera. But the good news is, you know, the Huskies enjoyed, you know, getting into the water and my children enjoyed getting in the water.
So, you turned over?
Yeah, yeah. When you hit with that canoe a stationary object like a tree, it just doesn't move. The tree doesn't move. So canoe has to give. So do we. So it was fun. Yeah.
Can you tell us a little bit more about why you all decided to to put some of your land into the conservancy?
To me, it is very critical that we preserve this river and. Keep our beautiful state even more beautiful. We did want to donate that 35 acre because it enhances the biodiversity, and we are really delighted by that. And what would we do if this is their land anyway? The birds, the animals, and insects—they own the land. We are just here. We are going to be passing through here compared to our lifespan sources, their continuity in generation after generation. And we thought that would be a good, good gesture on our part and we are fortunate to be able to do that. So why not?
I feel that same way. I feel like I have moved into their land, their country, and they're just putting up with me for a few years. Yeah, particularly the groundhogs, other raccoons I see now.
Yeah, you're right. And mosquitoes will make sure that you know that that is theirs and not yours is sit outside.
Yeah, but that biodiversity is so important, right? And I think a lot of people don't realize that what we do to nature, we are really doing to ourselves.
Yeah, I will say that this is a river that you can put your arms around, right? It's not so wide and big that you know that it can be a menace or it's not so trivial or small that it is not a big deal. This is really a perfect size in my thinking. You know, it's a beautiful size. And you know, I'm really, really happy to be an Ohioan because this was the state which, according to David McCullough.
It had no slavery, had freedom of religions, and the public school systems that were created for first time in any state in the in the union. So this is a great state, truly a great state because of its historic heritage and by its name. We owe it back to the state to keep its rivers clean, beautiful and pass it on to the next generation in that state so they can keep it cleaner, even more clean.
The River Speaks: An Oral History of the Little Miami River is produced at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices. It is a collaboration between WYSO and the Little Miami Watershed Network. It is funded by Ohio Humanities and The Nick and Edna Weller Charities.