|Rivers are mirrors|
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"A working river never rests." Fraser River, near Kamloops, British Columbia, [JVS, 1988].
F - flood plain is the lowland or area surrounding rivers and their tributaries that is subject to inundation.
O - oxbow or water body cut off from the main channel by erosion; in Australia a billabong.
S - swamp or overflow land, periodically submerged by rain and flood.
Yangtze River Gorge, Eastern China.
Rivers move silt as well as water and migratory animals.
To persist right alongside, or beside the stream ; referring to one's proximity to a river system.
The ecological history of rivers and their flood plains is allegedly the study of people's habits, livelihood, attitudes and inherited prejudices, attributes and customs that asks "How have rivers shaped our evolutionary development and our cultural understanding of natural areas?"
Riparian means stream side, living beside or along a stream or tributary of a river and hence being affected by its currents, flood patterns, and multiple resources. In the photograph of the Sacramento river at flood stage the levees are breached on both sides of the river's banks and most of the flood plain is under water from heavy winter rains, removal of trees and vegetation from forested slopes and ground cover upstream, and from reclamation of the flood plain's many streamside wetlands.
"What is a river's relation to rivalry?"
If we say it is a number of persons forming competing groups we have to understand that the original rival is the person on the opposite bank of a river:
"Rivers as resources" is a phrase that also ignores the intrinsic, or inherent ways that landscape shapes the watershed laced by rivers and streams and how rivers and streams bring life to a watershed.
Rivers nourish the land and the rainfall shed across the surface and under the ground feeds the flow of the river. The term watershed , literally refers to the entire terrain onto which flowing water sculpts a basin that drains in to a single river system from innumerable smaller tributary streams. Without underground seepage of rainfall and the surface runoff that comes with snow and precipitation the capacity for vegetation to colonize the landscape is severely limited.
In Egyptian mythology the river is the origin and continuous source of life, because rising high in the Ethiopian highlands and in the highlands of Lake Victoria, the nile floods annually. Fed by the seasonal monsoons in the African highlands from moisture derived out of the India Ocean, the headwaters of the Nile River flow north and inundate the valley leaving enormous amounts of silt behind. This deposition called alluvium is rich in organic material that replenishes the flood plain where farming is intensely practiced. Here, in the alluvial mud of the Nile Delta, Isis–the ancient goddess–finds the serrated parts of her lover Osiris' dismembered body. The god must await here gathering all of his body parts and she then reassembles his remains. Isis breathes life back into the corpse through intercourse.
In this sense the overflowing river reconnects the fragmented region represented by Osiris scattered remains. Like Isis, rivers tether fragmented landscapes, re-impregnate the dead soil with nourishing trace elements gathered all along the valley and deposit silt all along the levees on down into an awaiting delta or devouring sea.
Hence, the oldest meaning of the the term river reveals a profound hope, a bitter warning, and a commitment to renewal. Often beyond comprehension, people are deeply aware of the river as a nearly immortal power with respect to mortal humans.
The river literally and figuratively holds for us a promise, in the Bible it is the twin promise of redemption and sustenance, the promise to a desert people that the land is renewed by divine grace.
The historical understanding of the term river in human ecology
1, rivers as the site of settlements: from hamlets to metropolises
5, rivers as a self-organizing microcosm (1910s - 60s) Leopold metaphor of Round River (1940s)
What is a river but a flood of stories? To live with a river is to understand that sooner or later a flood develops and the course of the stream changes according the the mass of the water moving over ana area against the friction of the streambed and the opposition of the relative sizes of different materials that the flow has been able to dislodge from upstream and carry downstream with sufficient force.
Evolution or development of a river from youth to maturity implies a geologically significant life span in which watersheds give birth to rivers, the rivers scour a deep bed moving silt and debris, as the river shapes the drainage patterns of the river basin and their adjacent valley floors.
Diagram of a cross section of a watershed contrasted with the Lake Tahoe basin in winter, [JVS, 2003]
The context of the way we use words, phrases and terms is critical to determining the meaning of what we are saying. Watershed is a critically important concept. That is because it embodies the entire topography and underground geology through which water permeates and reinvigorates the terrain we settle, use, or leave alone as refuges.
When using words such as forest, river, or swampland we ought to be aware of the ecological community, by using very precise language. Even as these rice fields suggest, without swampy lowlands, the production of rice –that feeds roughly half the world's people– could never have been developed nor sustained.
Often, our words do not portray nor do they convey the evidence for the salient and defining features of a system; an ecosystem nourished by a river has special, functionally needed attributes that words can easily obscure. The words we use will become fused in our imaginations with the very conditions we describe. And if we are not careful, some people will confuse our descriptions with the reality of rivers that run through us, they trickle even through the grains we digest, and filtrate into the lives of all creatures in or far from the reaches of these riparian regions.
Forests are sources of rivers because as vegetative landscapes they give rise to springs.
Weald is the English word for forested area.
Forests and streams differ for many reasons some physical, others biological and some acquired by the ecological and evolutionary contingencies that they are subject to over the course of the life of the watershed.
Animals living in estuaries, the river mouth or along the river inherit and acquire adaptive means of adjusting to the flow of conditions.
Riparian tidal shoreline in cross section, is where water flows in opposite directions:
As the river floods or the tide rises the vegetational response to periodic inundation or flooding indicates to what extent and for how long the submerged land remains water logged, limiting the kinds of plants along the shore.
Characteristic plants indicate a riparian zone along the edge of any stream, creek or river. The cross section of this tidally affected creek shows how regular flooding selects for grasses that can tolerate prolonged submergence, although along some rivers shrubs and riparian forests grow.
Rivalry is the Latin word derived from rivas, those on opposite sides of a river.
In this photograph of a portion of the watershed from the Himalayan Mountain foothills taken in the 1990s the lighter patches are areas where forests have been cleared by rival owners. Where removal of vegetation causes loss of topsoil and increased siltation downstream, the affect of the upland owner is to degrade the capacity of the river to sustain life downstream.
The many rivers pictured above reveal the core of a basic reality. The watersheds defined by how rainfall moves from higher terrain to lower by way of related tributaries to a main river influences the natural and cultural development of the surroundings beyond the obvious topographical features associated with stream flow, flooding and landscape alterations.
Rio Grande, south of Albuquerque , New Mexico.