Ancient Dynamics

© Matthew Word Bain

This is a broad scene for such a narrow frame, but what we see here is the intersection of currents between the James (pictured) and the Maury (left of frame). The flow from the Maury is quite nearly orthogonal to the flow of the James as it enters, and from the vantage on this bank of the James it looks almost as if the Maury’s discharge actually pushes a bit upstream in an arc before being coaxed downriver in alignment with the flow in its new home between the banks of a broader river.

Confluences are fascinating to me. There is so much energy present in these places where two distinct flows merge. Rivers represent irresistible forces (water under the influence of gravity) encountering immovable objects (bedrock), and the courses they take across terrain represent the path of least resistance. All of the energy of water falling from the sky and emerging from the ground are channeled along these most yielding lines of earth, combining again and again as watersheds empty their tributes into ever larger channels.

Being in the presence of these flows of energy as they come together is a remarkable experience for me every time. Given how much energy is present, the effect is oddly soothing. Perhaps it is the gravity of the ages inherent in the landscape, the reassuring durability and resilience of the channels that have carried these flows for so long, through so many adverse circumstances. Perhaps something along these lines is imparted to my nervous system by the place, instructing me by example and without words.