Rivers are roads
“Rivers are roads that move.” — Blaise Pascal
I’ve always been fascinated by maps; I could literally sit and study them for hours. One of the first things I noticed as a child, when I would look at maps, is how the cities of America seemed to cluster along rivers and coasts. There’s a logical reason for that, of course, but it’s one that is often lost on us in these days of interstate highways and air travel. There was a time when rivers were the primary roads.
Even when we didn’t live on the coasts, we were always near rivers, and I’ve enjoyed them all. Yet I seldom think of them as roads to discovery, preferring instead to sit in one place and watch them flow by. But sometimes I daydream about how much fun it would be to have a boat and go traveling by water, stopping at places along the way and making discoveries I might miss on land.
Our York home sits near several rivers — the York, the James, the Elizabeth — as well as Hampton Roads, Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Every time I go to the Yorktown waterfront, I enjoy it so much I tell myself I’m going to start visiting more often, if only for an hour or so each week, but when I’m home I’m busy with tasks and seldom make the time.
I think one thing I find so appealing about rivers is, even if I’m not traveling down them, other people are. Seeing the boats come and go, and the water flowing into the horizon, out of sight, reminds me of opportunities, possibilities, undiscovered wonders. I’ve heard people say “the road is calling” and perhaps rivers, as roads, call us in the same way.
Do you live near a river? If so, do you ever use it as a road for travel?
One year ago today: