Sunday, August 19, 2012

Three Rivers - An Essence of Ebb and Flow

I'm drawn to water - lakes, ponds, waterfalls and especially rivers. Being near a still lake or reservoir has a peaceful, calming effect. I prefer rivers because they have an essence of ebb and flow. A wild river sculpts the land and is always changing. It's dynamic, constantly seeking a new course to carve its bed and flooding its banks to deposit fresh silt. A riverine landscape improves the scenery and offers the chance to study a wide variety of plants and wildlife.

Throughout human history rivers have been the scene of important milestones. They have been crucial in determining political boundaries and defending countries. Most major cities of the world are situated on the banks of rivers. A river can be a great source of abundance or catastrophic destruction. As a result, people have developed ways to manage and control rivers to make them more useful and less disruptive to human activity.

This summer we visited three rivers. The Rio Grande near Alamosa, Colorado, the Yampa in Steamboat, Colorado and the North Platte at Bridgeport, Nebraska. Each of these rivers have their own distinct personality. To really understand a river, you need to experience the water in some way by wading, swimming or just splashing around. Rafting, canoeing and kayaking are other great ways to get a feel for the power and beauty of moving water. I'm not so sure man's "taming" and exploitation of America's great rivers was the correct thing to do in the long run but it's something we have to live with. I still always enjoy my time spent on the river.

The Rio Grande River near Alamosa, Colorado
The Rio Grande is a stately, classic looking river. Narrow and deep with grassy banks and purple water, this river winds its way through a remote desert valley. Exotic birds like the Sandhill Crane, American Avocet and the White-Faced Ibis add an elegant touch.

The Yampa River in Steamboat, Colorado
The Yampa is a struggling, drought-stricken river. Clear and shallow with rocky banks and cold, blue water, this river meanders through a high mountain valley. Swallows skim the water surface and add some life to the quiet, somber atmosphere.

The North Platte at Bridgeport, Nebraska
The North Platte is a lazy, easy-going river. Wide and waist-deep with sandy banks and warm, brown water, this river flows peacefully through an agricultural valley. Impressive large birds like the Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle inhabit this, my hometown river.

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