I live along the banks of the French Broad River in North Carolina. It is a fun river, flowing south to north. Almost every other river in the country flows north to south. It is the fourth oldest river in the world, and is over 300 million years old. (Gives the phrase Old Man River a new glow, doesn’t it?)
It has watched a lot of history go by, and I think that the river and mountains must, by this time, be good friends. They are both stoic and look like fortresses in time.
The French Broad River likes spring, I think. Old friends come to play on its shores. Deer come to drink at her edge. The little animals — rabbits and squirrels and racoons — come to sip of her coolness, and scamper and play on the banks. Otters swim and court in her waters.
It is wonderful to watch the trees on her shore as they awaken, and the river seems to enjoy their awakening — the soft spring green that begins as a faint haze, so that you cannot quite tell if you are actually seeing it on the branches of the trees, or if it just your imagination heralding the warming days. And then, one day, the green is there beyond any doubt, and the next day, leaves begin to open and it is glorious to see the green in the branches, reflected on the river’s face.
The flower bulbs along the river push up their green leaves through the newly softened earth, and a week or so later, you have spring flowers and spring color smiling at the river. Even after North Carolina’s gentle winter, it is a delight to see.
The river can be ugly and can be most beautiful. It can be an ugly deep brown, reflecting the wash of sediment into her banks after a rain higher in the mountains. It can be very beautiful when the sun is out and reflecting in sudden diamonds of light all over the surface of the water, newly clear enough to see to the bottom. On these days, you will see kayakers or canoers or fisherman enjoying their day with the river.
I have lived here seven years now, and I have seen the river in strange conditions twice. Once was when it overflowed its banks, and the second time was when it froze. I was amazed to see both states, and felt lucky to see such rare occurrences (although I was glad when both were over).