Armchair Peregrinations


October 1, 1998

I mentioned in an earlier journal entry the small creek that I discovered one afternoon during a walk near my apartment in Columbia years ago. I want to revisit that scene today, reflecting on one aspect of that experience and that time.

The creek itself was quite small, three or four feet wide and and few inches deep, but it always seemed to be flowing about the same depth and speed, as if fed by a spring. At one point, I could stop and sit on a log and watch and listen as it flowed over a scoured out section of rock. It formed a small "V" and was one of the few spots where you could actually hear the rushing of water over rock. But it was a quiet sound, this movement over rock.

I can remember sitting there on Saturday afternoons staring at that flowing water, hearing its gentle presence in a steady, rhythmic run downstream, listening for any differing characteristics of the sound. There were none. It was singularly uniform, utterly pleasing and soothing. Something about that moving water was just immensely relaxing and comforting. It pulsed and flowed. I focused on that one spot for long moments.

Where was the water coming from? I knew where it was going. First to Gills Creek, then on to the mighty Congaree River which courses through Columbia, formed at the confluence near downtown of the Broad and Salula rivers. The Congaree makes its way downstream to Lake Marion, impounded during the 1930s, and thence, by way of the Santee and Cooper rivers to the Atlantic Ocean at Charleston and north near Georgetown.

This tiny tributary stream feeds a great river. The beauty it created was part of an entire tableaux of trees and rocks, blue skies and fresh air. I always thought of this creek as a kind of symbol of eternal things, at least it would always be here as long as this piece of earth endured and man did not alter or destroy the surrounding landscape.

I think, too, of the poet Wordsworth's lines in the final River Duddon sonnet, that lovely series of poems celebrating this special English stream: "I thought of thee, my partner and my guide,/As being past away -- Vain sympathies! For backward Duddon as I cast my eyes,/I see what was, and is, and will abide;/Still glides the Stream, and shall forever glide;/The Form remains, the Function never dies.">


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