I’ve talked a fair bit to most of y’all about how much I love mountains. My soul is warmed by the twin flames of the Blue Ridge and the Adirondacks. I crave these mountains; they are always under my skin deeper than ink can travel, and in my lungs like a clarifying breath when I most need one.
There’s also no denying my saltwater heritage (I grew up close to the Atlantic, via the Crystal Coast in NC, and have immersed myself in the cold, clarifying waters of the Pacific also…I’d say something pretty about the Gulf, too, but Galveston, you can keep your nasty waters). Any excuse would do to be out there with the rolling sea stretching as far as the eye could see, whether that meant hotfooting it over broiling pale sands into lacy foam and playful waves, or sailing to my favorite lighthouse, discovering huge, near-perfect shells in waters that were placid and clear by the shore and quickly dropped off to the deep marine blue of roughly forty feet at the nearby boat.
But in another light, it’s really all about rivers. They have, in some ways, defined the borders of my existence (as I’m sure they do for so many people all over the world; can’t live without water, after all). I revere, respect, and adore them.
Today, I’m gonna call out the ones that have particularly influenced my life in one way or another.
I was born where the Tar River flows (so named because barges carrying tar — one of NC’s naval stores — headed down this river and out to sea, back in the day). I spent much of my early childhood in a town decorated with the Trent and Neuse Rivers; I remember watching my father get baptized in the Neuse when I was about four years old (I thought they were drowning him and tried to run to his aid).
In college, I fell in love with the usually-chilly, always-playful, scenic Tuckaseegee River. I miss the Tuck, like so many other things about my time there. Nothing like a mountain river to refresh you on a warm day!
Eventually, I found myself in south Texas, where the jade-green Guadalupe River caught my eye. I watched full-grown men swing from a rope into the waters (I did not, amidst newfound fears of various water-loving Texas critters hiding in there). And of course we took touristy boat rides down the San Antonio River while we were there, usually during the holidays.
Now, I live once again surrounded by waterways that I love. I swear the Black River called my name before I was born, drawing me inexorably to this town. It has big moods, many of them savage, but it also knows how to laugh. And oh, the St. Lawrence! I don’t need the ocean nearby when this large, pristine river flows just a half hour’s ride from my house. (It’s possibly purer than your tap water, by the way.)
When we go rail biking in the Adirondacks, the tracks cross the sprawling Hudson River. The view is so breathtaking that sometimes I forget to keep pedaling — I’m not in a hurry to leave it behind me anyway! What a sight!
(And don’t even get me started on the gazillion lakes we pass en route to the rail biking depot…it’s one of the most scenic drives we’ve ever taken. Can’t wait to do it again sometime in the Great After, when things start to settle into the new normal!)
What bodies of water hold significance for you? Why?