Two and a half hours outside Chicago on the Illinois River, there’s a stretch of gravel path that runs between the train tracks and the river, where the tugs pull the parges under tall rusted-out bridges. My grandfather would walk me down there in the summers, past concrete pylons swarming with boxelders. We’d explore the beach on the south-end of the path. Once, we came on a coyote skull, dried to the bone and bleached white by the sun. We’d always skip stones there along the flowing surface of the river.