January 03, 2003

Rivers Below

Goose Creek ~ Image Copyright Fred First

When the kids were small, we enjoyed several books by David Macaulay, including one called "City". Particularly, I was mesmerized by his architectual cross-section of a metropolis, looking up at it from its roots, showing the detail of what was underground below it. His images revealed a world of things and processes that were going on under our urban feet, day and night, to keep our city working... a world that was necessary and real, but out of mind and sight. I never saw the city the same way after that.

We once moved to a small farm where there was pasture but no water for cattle to drink. The old spring sat against the edge of a shallow bowl that was filled with mud and long ago invaded by willows and overgrown by alders. The closest I have come to witnessing magic was in the finding of the source of the spring. Over the course of a month, I dug further and further back into the muddy bank, until finally one day, I reached limestone. But there was no water. The next day, in that spot was a damp patch. With more digging, a slow seep. Finally, a miraculous flow that fed a pond where the kids would float on rafts and we would iceskate in winter. Water out of stone, the nearest thing to magic I have known.

There is a 'city' of structure under my feet here in this very spot, many miles from any city. Carry Mr. Macaulay's camera down a thousand feet below our pasture on the banks of the headwaters of Goose Creek. See above the impervious core of ancient rock a vast blanket of rock full of tiny pores and cracks. Through it run creeks and rivers in the dark. Contained by it are canyons, caves and lakes filled with ancient rain. Two thirds of the world's fresh water is down here in this underground liquid world we never think of.

In places this spongy-watery rock shows itself to the world above ground, and cold subterranean water oozes and flows from clefts in the side of snow-covered hills. Finding each other in low places, united by gravity, ribbons of mountain springwater merge and flow together cutting their way through the very rock from which they were born.

See. This water of Goose Creek rushing past with such apparent intention. It will someday rise from sea to cloud to move again over mountains to saturate the very foundations of earth. From under these ridges will pour light and sound into creeks to fill those who will stand on these banks, careless above river worlds underground.

Posted by fred1st at January 3, 2003 07:43 AM | TrackBack
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