Wednesday, February 25, 2009

WATER NAMES

Rivers, creeks, brooks, rills. I love the sound of these words, the sweet and magical way they roll off the tongue; the music they make when spoken aloud. In them I hear the essence of life, bubbly and light, cool, refreshing, purling over riffles, quiet in pools and eddies, soft and sibilant against sandy bars. Bold words with power to stir feelings, invoke moods. I often whisper them as a prayer and feel better. They are reaffirming words, offering beginning and end, source and destination, purpose and hope. Rivers, creeks, brooks, rills. Moving waters free from birth, possessed of eternal restlessness, they are shaped by their passage, gaining strength as they travel, continuing to seek what lies beyond, unwilling to give up the journey. What could they teach us about being true and steadfast if only we would listen? Sometimes I say their names —Stillwater, Scioto, Miami— and ache with loneliness afterwards, because they are not mere places, but flow through my soul, and it has been too long between visits.

24 comments:

KGMom said...

Several comments about serendipity. First, the rivers that you named are all in the general area of Dayton, Ohio. In the somewhat distant past, I had family connections in that area. I had an uncle who was a pastor in West Milton, Ohio. I spent summers there with my cousins, helping to bail hay. I have such wonderful memories of those halcyon days.
I also had an uncle (on the other side of my family) who was teaching at Wilmington College. That summer, my grandmother--his mother--died. So he & his family picked me up from West Milton, and we made the long drive back to central PA.
So, the river names that roll off your tongue set off some memories for me.
Second, the word riffles is one that I just looked up today. We had a swimming hole that we called the Riffles. Truth is, it was deeper than a riffle would be. But that word also set off a flood of memories.
Thank you. . .I think.

JMS said...

Beautiful!

Val said...

Yes. May we all be not only shaped by our passage but strengthened by it as well.

Beautifully written, dear Grizzled.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

Okay, then here are some others—see what they evoke: Ludlow Falls, Greenville Creek, Panther Creek, Miller's Grove, Todds Fork (no possessive apostrophe, though I don't know why), Bantas Fork (same grammatical mystery), Little Miami, Twin Creek, Price's Creek.

Anything ring a bell?

Riffle is a fine old word, beloved by anglers because it denotes a division between pools and feature which adds dissolved oxygen to the holding water below—thus a good place to fish. My copy of the OED seems to suggest that riffles and rapids are much the same, that perhaps the terms are interchangeable; I would counter that not all riffles are very rapid—certainly not in a canoeist's sense of rapids, and also that they're generally shallower. A riffle can be only an inch or two deep or on a little mountain rill a foot wide; I don't believe anyone would consider that a rapid. A riffle can be "bouncing" rather than broken water.

Just in front of the cottage is either a big, deep riffle or a slow, shallow rapids which the locals insist on calling a falls, and which furnishes the constant voice and name for my modest stone home—Riversong.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

JMS…

Thank you.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Val…

Yes, shaped and strengthened, the lesson of rivers and lives.

I'm glad you liked the piece.

The Solitary Walker said...

This is really lovely, Grizzled. "Purling over riffles" - yes, I like that.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Solitary…

As I've said before, I never know what to make of my attempts at poetry—or quite when to say, okay, that one's finished. Some take minutes, others hours, days, weeks, even years. And then, is the end result good, bad, mediocre? I just don't know.

If someone finds something in one they like, a word or line, a turn of phrase, an idea…then that's all I can every ask. So I'm very pleased you liked a bit of this one. Thank you.

I am, I must admit, rather pleased with the rock/water photo that accompanied it which I shot yesterday by leaning off the deck.

giggles said...

PS. Roll call:

Yesterday and this am..one flicker feeding at the suet block. A small flock of what, at first glance, I assumed to be grackles.... But NO! As I continued to watch....red-winged blackbirds... And the downy is back this am...must not like crowds. He came all by himself when no one else was around....

We've also had crows and blue jays since I v'e started dropping the cracked corn....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

No red-winged blackbirds here; probably not likely, either. I do have crows and the occasional bluejay (very occasional) and for the past week or so, I've also had a male flicker hanging around daily, from dawn until dusk.

By the way, I appreciate your regular roll calls. I think it's interesting (maybe just to me…and you?) to hear what birds are currently visiting other's feeders. So thank you for keeping this up.

giggles said...

My pleasure, really... It's fun to note new and different visitors, and more fun still to share with interested parties (who talk back!)

The Weaver of Grass said...

Riversong - what an evocative name.
I love water too - one thing that I keep constantly in my mind is that it has been there for generations and it will be there long after we have gone - or as Tennyson says of his brook - Men may come and men may go, but I go on for ever. Love this post,

The Solitary Walker said...

I actually liked the whole poem as a unity, Grizzled - not just the bit I singled out!

Yes, I like the photo too - it has the textural look of an oil painting about it. Can you see what I mean?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

It is fun. And trust me, there is NO PROBLEM about me talking back.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

Streams are constant, endless, eternal—water in motion. I like lakes—especially the vast inlands seas of the Great Lakes, and particularly Lake Superior—but streams are my thing, and perhaps more than any I like the winding pastoral brooks, or the creeks of the Southern mountains, which come tumbling down a steep forested slope, eager and youthful, loud with energy.

I'm pleased you like the poem, and glad you don't think my home's name is too pretentious. But it seemed right the moment I laid eyes on this place—the riffle's voice, loud, soft, always there except during flood when it falls ominously silent.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Solitary…

I'll try to not inflict too much poetry on you—though it seems to be something I'm writing more of lately. I go through spells, or maybe "poetry seasons" sounds more natural. Anyway, I'm currently in a poetry season. God help us all!

I do understand and agreed about the textural qualities of the photo. It's a "straight" shot, no manipulation other than I cropped a bit off each side to make it a "squarer" rectangle. I shot it yesterday afternoon just after I wrote a first draft of the poem, and decided I wanted this sort of water view to go with it. It's a yard-square portion of my home riffle, just below the deck and right at the left edge of the same riffle in which the heron in the blog header is standing. I liked the light and bubbles and the reflected sky color, a sort of greenish blue-gray.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I like the word 'riffle' too!

I'm thinking of The Wind in the Willows again when I read this. Really love the poem, and the emotions in it.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

I guess the actual setting for TWITW was the River Pang—at least so I've heard or read somewhere. I have no idea how that stream compares with "my" little river in size and appearance. But in my imagination I can see Mole and Rat (looking as E. Shepard drew them) floating along in their tiny boat, picnic basket amidships, on their first gentle adventure.

I'm pleased you like the poem. Thank you.

ChrisC and JonJ said...

Lovely.And so is the photo.I need to work on my water photos.

Bella said...

You really must try and see the 2006 BBC production of WITW...I know you can buy it on DVD. It was a magnificent and complete adaptation of the book and the acting was superb...Bob Hoskins was the badger, and particularly good, but all were absolutely perfect in their portrayals of the characters.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

ChrisC and JonJ…

Thank you. I'm glad you liked both poem and pix.

Regarding my river water photo…your beach and sea photos look pretty good to me. I'm particularly jealous of those pileated shots, seeing as how my eagle-eyed dooryard pileated woodpecker comes from the squawk-and-flee school and is near impossible to sneak up on and get a shot.

Again, thanks for your kind comment.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bella…

I will indeed get a DVD copy of TWITW production. And I can see Bob Hoskins as Badger. Thank you.

The Logistician said...

Nice work. I came across your blog while “blog surfing” using the Next Blog button on the blue Nav Bar located at the top of my blogger.com site. I frequently just travel around looking for other blogs which exist on the Internet, and the various, creative ways in which people express themselves. Thanks for sharing.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Logistician…

Glad you stopped by for a visit, and that you liked what you saw/read. You're welcome any time.