To trace the history of a river or a raindrop . . . is also to trace the history of the soul, the history of the mind descending and arising in the body. In both, we constantly seek and stumble upon divinity, which like feeding the lake, and the spring becoming a waterfall, feeds, spills, falls, and feeds itself all over again.
— (Gretel Ehrlich, Islands, The Universe, Home)
This week's word comes to us through the good offices of the Middle English and Anglo-Norman rivere and the Vulgar Latin riparia, thence the proper Latin riparius and ripa all meaning "of a bank" or simply "bank". The word's closest kin is the adjective riparian, and we use it to describe the fertile ground along waterways and those who live in such places - to be called riparian is a fine thing..
From the cedared coves and quiet fields of their beginning places to the lakes where they end their journey, a thousand and one little rivers in the Lanark highlands lift their voices, whispering, murmuring, laughing, singing, occasionally roaring. At sunset or in cool morning light, reflections of sky and clouds and trees fill every pool and eddy. After dark, the moon pours its light over everything and seems as much a dweller in the quiet waters as it is in the sky above.
Solitary voices, choruses and concertos, there is attentive presence and connection in every note, and what a metaphor for life and journeying. If I could have named myself, the name would probably have been "River". As it happens, the youngest member of the family now wears the name, and I would like to be around to explore rivers, puddles and tide pools with her in a few years.
Wherever we land up living out our days, we are never far from rivers of one sort or another, and they are fine motifs for wandering. If fortunate, we will know many, learning their language and cadence, tracing the patterns of their ebbing and flowing, committing their rumbling chants and fluid harmonies to fragile memory — the canticles of earth's rivers are the music of our journey.