I don’t live by the river, I don’t even see it that often. I don’t boat on it or swim in it. But I realize that I do have a river I consider mine.
Because I was born and have lived here most of my life, the Potomac River is my river. It’s tributaries; Monocacy, Anacostia, Shenandoah and Occoquan, all good Native American names, are names I know from stories, street signs, news reports. It’s feeder Rock Creek is the spine of our local park, running through Washington DC and enclosing the National Zoo, Pierce Mill, and countless trails full of walkers, woodpeckers and deer. My neighborhood storm drains carry water down to it, whether clean or foul.
My river is not in my blood like some who live on a river, who may earn their living from the river, who travel on the river. But over the years I have hiked along the river and made countless visits to see and hear and feel the cool mist from its Great Falls. And rock-scrambled over the boulders along it’s shores. With my parents, with my first love, with my children and husband.
We have waded its creeks wearing old sneakers, and played Pooh Sticks over small footbridges. We have picked up stones and found crayfish. We have seen a water snake. We have identified animal footprints in sand at the shore.
My son rowed crew on this river, out before dawn on the cold gray water in a slim shell with fragile hull.
Whenever I drive across one of its big bridges- Chain, Key, American Legion, Memorial, and others, I look down into the water. How high or how low? How peaceful or how turbulent, muddy with fresh rain or melt?
My river is the Potomac. What is your river?