Saturday, February 6, 2010

There is a Place

There is a place I've seen, somewhere. It's seems to be a spot, best described as a confluence, or maybe convergence. The prefix these words―con―is a seeming dilemma. Actually, in this context it means “with”, not “against”. Thus, a coming together. This spot I've seen, somewhere, is where two streams come together. One definition I saw was “A meeting place”. Now, the particulars of this coming together have as many forms as as clouds or blades of grass in a field.
About the “where”, I guess it could be many places: Montana, Idaho, Alaska. It could be in the Southern Alps of New Zealand; Canada, Fiji, Tasmania. The meeting place, the coming together of forces and qualities has a power. How to say it without sounding too New Age, artsy-fartsy or Freudian, Jungian? Anyway, it seems important; people have been attracted to these places since there have been people, for safety, to trade, access to easy shipping. Actually, most likely, for reasons we don't easily understand on our own, on the surface, we gather. We build, have built, villages in these places, towns and cities, until we don't remember why we gathered here in the first place. The wild streams have been confined, to control flooding; straightened, buried. Civilized.
So, in my mind, I see this place. I drive on a twisty two lane, following the wilder river, down from it's headwaters in the upper valleys. The white water comes off glaciers, from alpine lakes, through stands of larch and tamarack, dense, fog shrouded cedar groves. The water becomes clear, maybe a little bluish, fast running, cold. Mostly I can follow along the banks at this point. The flow's course was created by ice, along ranges buckled up and tore down. Finally, it has settled down some now. Fast, strong, deep. It sweeps down, races through a narrow canyon, then pours across a broader plain, where it meets it's bigger cousin.
The lower river is a force in it's own right. It's much broader, bear the water of many other, smaller riverslike the one we've been tracking. It carries silt and mud churned along the way,branches, even whole trees, up from floods and slides along it's banks. It's darker, slower, wider. It seems much older, ancient. At their confluence, the waters from the two rivers don't actually mix together right away. The two will flow together, side by side, in the same bed, sometimes for miles, until currents swirl them into one.
The highway out of the canyon follows the edges of the river, right along the bank, and then does a little loop, and crosses a bridge, into the settlement proper. In the evening, you can see the city lights well before you cross the bridge. Civilization. This is a good place to pull over and look back as the sun sets. right oranges and reds, pale yellow paint the water. And to look ahead. Huge oaks, cottonwoods, willows dominate the shoreline. The river will continue it's course, maybe to a lake below, eventually to the sea. Now, I think to my self, why have I come here?
I'm excited by my prospects, but already, I long for the higher places, the mountains, the crags, boiling rapids. There are private, strong, quiet places there, far away from the open, exposed public places in the noisy town square, the crowded neighborhoods, the crazy streets. What comes next I'm not sure, but, I know who I am, and where I come from. I can be here in this place, be a part of, join in the mix, add my bit, take what I need, and become stronger, so long as I don't become this place.