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Down to the River

Posted by Didi Gorman on

By Didi Gorman
Pictures by Dafna Gorman

The scenic path winding in-between the trees all the way to the riverbank reminded me of the landscape paintings of 19th-century Impressionist artist, Claude Monet. The lush vegetation and gentle ripples on the water were nothing short of idyllic.

It certainly helped take my mind off the COVID-19 pandemic. It hadn’t been easy recently. The long lockdown had only just been lifted.

I needed fresh air, fresh thoughts, a relief, the levity that comes when spending time in Nature.

As I was climbing down to the waterline, stopping to take pictures of tadpoles, water gliders, and a family of ducks crossing the stream in the distance, it became evident that the old adage that Nature has the power to soothe the soul, held true. Nature, indeed, was still there for us – its serenity and beauty comforting and reassuring.

Or was it only my wishful, naïve interpretation?

The gentle burble slurping softly at the rocks, if I listened really closely, was not necessarily a whisper of solace to soothe the human soul in the aftermath of a pandemic.

Perhaps it was more of a warning hiss of what’s to come.

Future pandemics? Maybe. But there was something else, more visceral, looming in the babble of the calm waters.

A thought occurred to me: This river, now docile and knee-high, will unleash a tidal wave unto our downtown in the coming spring, as has become ‘normal’ in the past few years. Black, angry rapids will gush towards nearby roads, parking lots, train tracks, sidewalks, houses and backyards; submerging flowerpots and hedges, fire hydrants and monkey bars, and anything else on their path.

The current will rise and rise until it will smite at the bridge from underneath, swallowing the road leading to it, 

leaving only a small island of concrete and arches above the waterline.

Not a very soothing thought.

Pretty scary, actually; a monstrous river assaulting our town.

Global warming, they say. Too much urbanization. Too much industry. Over-population. This happens all over the world.

Of course the river doesn’t really ‘assault’. Nor is it a monster. It just tries to flow its 

natural course and, oops – there’s a town right on its banks. What’s a river to do? It just washes right through it. And if industrial waste had been dumped into that river farther upstream, then that poor town is now awash with all that gunk. And if on top of that a nearby dam had been breached by the sheer force of the current, then, yes, it probably would feel as if the river was launching a monstrous attack.

I had come to the river to be consoled, but came away with thoughts about natural disasters, pandemics, and the connection between them. Not the message I had been seeking, not one bit. But still, one that is worth reflecting on.