Down to the river
Whether it’s to escape the heat, or recover from a lousy day at work, I’ve always found the river can wash all of one’s troubles away. Lately, I have been spending a fair amount of time on the river.
Songsters have sung of the healing effect of water nearly as long as there has been song. The symbolism of the river, washing and carrying one’s troubles away, is a powerful image. For several religions, Christianity and Hinduism in particular, the river holds a particularly important place as a symbol of renewal.
Rivers also played a major part in the colonization of North America by Europeans. Most major cities in the eastern half of the continent were established as either deep water ports along the coast (Boston, New York, Halifax, St. Augustine) or at the limit of navigation, where ships encountered rapids or shallow waters and trade goods had to be carried further by wagon (Richmond, Philadelphia, Baltimore). Of course, many of these trade routes were well established long before the first European arrived on these shores.
For me the river offers an escape. The journey doesn’t matter so much, nor does the destination, just to be on the water is enough. On these sweltering days, I can think of no place I’d prefer to be, than on the river.
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
-from: Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame