We all live downstream on round river.
"One of the marvels ... was the Round River, a river that flowed into itself, and this sped around and around in a never-ending circuit. . . . The current is the stream of energy which flows out of the soil into plants, thence into animals, thence back into the soil in a never ending circuit of life." *
Round Riveris also the Wekiva, the Ocklawaha, and St. John’s River Valleys and watershed. Emerging from a fountain Wekiva springs from the land that has in some distant time absorbed the rain water flowing over and mostly under Florida.
We are tied together, tethered if you will, to a cycle of water that is the recurrent pump of reality. As DaVinci said water is the “driver of life.” The substance of round river is the perpetual flow of the water. Clean water is the legacy of Round River because we all live downstream in such an eternally flowing river as this one. Beside, beneath, around and through the forests the river flows because trees and streams are functionally needed for each other to survive. In any valley it is the same.
Forests give rise to the springs, rivers and lakes that comprise the hydrology of a place. Indeed the pattern of that drainage is an important contributing factor to determining the character of a place. The presence or absence of forests and rivers are the scenic elements that are important in determining a sense of place. Where tributaries are accessible they are the place we learn best about how rivers behave. Round river behaves reciprocally well.
The Grand Canyon reveals the marvels of another, larger river in sculpting adjacent layers of geologically very old material in a valley providing a rare glimpse of the earth’s and nature’s antiquity. From the pre-Cambrian basement rock to the sediments of vast inland seas, the rocks of the canyon are a geological stairway into the deep past when the planet’s continents formed a central landmass. In these layers of rock the emergence of life from the sea is recorded and the dawn of insects and flowering trees. These rocks are remains of the remnant continents that have occupied the timeless seas of the earth’s drifting surficial tectonic plates. Nature is deep, dark and enigmatic with respect to human endeavors.
Geology may not be destiny, but surely water is!
Without it we are a different person. Water weaves the heavens and the earth and the soil that sustains the wildlife and humans that compete for space on a largely wet planet. Water is the most obvious surface feature from space as it is on a first-hand examination of any place. Water, the universal solvent, is utterly necessary for urban, industrial existence. Without water, cities die, as Akbar’s city in the Indo-Gangetic plain sits ruined adrift in history, surrounded by dry hills after the river shifted its course away from the newly built imperial city.
As water and geology conspire with energy and atmosphere to produce forests, slowly a distinctive place emerges with a distinct humid and distinct arid seasons where frosts are rare in a decade. Such a sub-tropical to temperate climate pattern with heavy amounts of rain normally in summers gives rise to tall forests, endless pine trees, numberless springs, eroding beaches, bouquets of naturalized and native flowers. Named after flora, the vegetation is an important if significantly altered aspect of Florida’s contemporary forests and wildlife sanctuaries. Among the most endangered wildlife on earth are living here.
The St. Johns Marsh at Tosahatchee crossing.
What ever Florida was its many distinctive rivers, lakes, trails and swimming holes can be seen as a lace-work of patches holding together the remnants that are the fractured ranges of the state’s wildlife, fisheries and indigenous vegetation. As a refuge for remnant species, such as the crocodile, the key deer, or the Florida Yew tree, our plants and animals are distinctly Floridian in their interdependence with the watery rhythms of the lands, seas, and air. These remaining portions of the old swamp, forested and prairie lands are what must be linked together for future preservation. They are the reminders of this place had we never been here in any great numbers.
These forests enable the round river to endlessly flow back into itself, thus embodying the hydrological cycle, limiting factors and transport capacity of flowing water. Round river pumps or fuels our civilization only so far as we understand the water, energy, air and land places limitations upon any space. The trees and creeks become our means to renew the landscape and to tether our neighborhoods -- once again -- to some natural scale and proportion of life.
Round River is the Wekiva and St. John's River Valley andwatershed. Emerging from a fountain that springs from the land that has in somedistant time absorbed the rain water that flows over and mostly under Florida.
We are tied together, tethered if you will.
Aldo Leopold, Round River, p. 158