Friday, June 25, 2021

Friday Ramble, River

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 old thing.

From the quiet coves and fields of their beginning places to the greater rivers and lakes where they end their journeys, a thousand and one little rivers in the Lanark highlands lift their voices, whispering, murmuring, cooing, 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 she seems as much a dweller in the quiet waters as she 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 shallows, 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 we are lucky, we will know many rivers in our lives, 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 ancient stories, and they are the music of our journey.

A peaceful river and a golden summer full moon, what more can one ask for?

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