from the ‘French Broad'
‘... The stream that was there
twenty-five years ago is no longer there today. Once upon a time the
summer sound of it through open windows caused strangers unaccustomed
to a front-yard stream to think that rain was falling; last summer
the trickle that seeped beneath its leave and rocks was noiseless as dust.
On the lower part of the stream there is a lawsuit pending over pollution
of its water, The lake it forms has been drained to a mudhole twice during
recent seasons to cart away the silt washed down be every rain.
And last summer, as drought hovered for the third consecutive year over
this region usually so rich in rainfall, even some of the oldest
boldest springs deep in its mountains faded to their original unseen sources.
I stood beside the damp sand of one of the best and most ancient of these
springs, beneath a clump of high straight poplars and a ledge of rock,
and I remembered the wonder of the clear flowing water that had always
filled the basin there. How right that we should say a spring is
fed by veins- tiny threads of water leading from many sources- and that
we can destroy a spring by probing too deeply for its delicate feeders.
From its veins and thousands like it, the life of Beaverdam Creek and
French broad River and the waters to which they run are made. Gradually
the springs and streams and rivers have changed before our very eyes.
A few of the springs have gone completely; many of the streams have dwindled
irreparably; most of the rivers have diminished. They need, like
the people of the region, our concern and respect. For it is a rare
region, this country of the French Broad that boasts so much variety of
beauty and species
and experience. How can a sentence sing it or a chapter describe
it or a book give it full life? To paraphrase in prose a poem
Robert Frost once wrote in a part of the country he too loved: I'm going
out to clean the spring and wait for it to flow clear again: I may taste
its sweetness. I'm going out to feel the soft yield of winter moss
and mulch beneath my woods' feet. Won't you come, too? I'm going
out to hear the slow talk of some stranger becoming friend as I listen
to his life; to see the wide sweep of the river's silent power around
a certain bend beneath the sycamores. I'm going out to smell fresh
rain on summer dust and the prehistoric water odors of the old French
Broad in flood. Won't you come, too?
River is Your River, Our River
"A Tall Woman" (an excerpt)
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