The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by the sound of exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
The memory card for my camera is now full and before retiring it to doom in a corner of my pencil case, I’ve been browsing photographs taken in the last year. A lot of them are of water, particularly rivers. I think this is partly because it is generally safer to run along the bank of a river because there is less traffic, but it is also partly because I feel a bit like Mole in the presence of this body of water.
There is something fascinating and lovely about a river. My husband is particularly fond of them–most of his favorite books involve a river journey. In Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, the river is a vehicle towards spiritual illumination:
Cheerfully, he looked into the rushing river, never before he had like a water so well as this one, never before he had perceived the voice and the parable of the moving water thus strongly and beautifully. It seemed to him, as if the river had something special to tell him, something he did not know yet, which was still awaiting him. In this river, Siddhartha had intended to drown himself, in it the old, tired, desperate Siddhartha had drowned today. But the new Siddhartha felt a deep love for this rushing water, and decided for himself, not to leave it very soon.
The Sungai Klang is a river in Malaysia that is about 120 kilometres long and feeds into the Straits of Malacca. Kuala Lumpur is built on the point of its confluence with the Gombak river , hence the capital’s name, which means ‘muddy estuary’. The river is very polluted but an extensive clean-up operation is underway.
This 14-mile river flows into Lake Samamish in northern Washington state. Home to salmon and trout.
This is the main river crossing Montpellier in the Hérault province in southern France. It flows to the Mediterranean Sea.
A fizzy mountain torrent that straddles French Savoie and north-west Italy. It eventually meets the Dora Riparia at Susa. This is a view looking south to Novalesa Abbey.
This runs for 125 kilometres before joining the Po. Here it is where it flows through the town of Susa.
The Po is about 680 kilometres long and crosses northern Italy from the Cottian Alps eastward to a delta near Venice that drains into the Adriatic. It has 141 tributaries.
This is not technically a river but a salt-water tidal estuary in New York. But what the heck, close enough!
A creek in Trenton, New Jersey, that leads into the mighty Delaware River. Assunpink means ‘stony, watery place’.
Rome is built on the banks of this river that rises in the Tuscan Apennines and flows southwest for 405 miles before entering the Tyrrhenian Sea at Ostia. Tiberinus was the Roman god of the river.
This river in southern Portugal runs 75 kilometres from the Serra do Caldeirão ridge into the Atlantic near Portimão. The banks of the river used to be the site of a large sardine-processing factory.
River Plate (Río de la Plata)
This is also not really a river but an estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay and Paraná rivers. It is the widest river in the world, with a maximum width of about 220 kilometres and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
Rivers are attractive paradoxes, mingling change and permanence. The Nile may be ancient but, as Heraclitus pointed out, you can’t step into the same river twice. They are refreshed every instant but also stay alive for millennia. Marcus Aurelius puts a gloomier cast on it:
Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.
Anyway, tomorrow I’m planning to get another memory card and take another 300 pictures of rivers.