My erosional forces

My favorite walking spot is slowly slipping into the Merrimack River; it is inevitable.

The Merrimack River

Image by Cramit via Flickr

I have seen evidence of erosion all my life. In the canyons of the American West, where my husband has pointed out where water and wind have scoured rock formations over eons, and at the beaches of Cape Cod, where the sands shift and change shape year to year. But river erosion is noticeable from one day to the next. With a heavy rain, entire trees tumble over, first tipping at awkward angles, and then fully submerged the next day, helping to fill the hungry river.

I can remember going out to this same floodplain about 15 years ago when my kids were young. We would always go first to the ancient maple, which lay on it’s side like an enormous sleeping bear, enticing the kids to it’s danger. That tree has been gone, and the earth beneath as well, for more than 5 years. We witness time passing everywhere, sometimes taking note, other times getting caught unawares.

When writing about the past, present, or the future, and trying to make it clear to my readers where we are in time, can be tricky.  For instance, when I say, “Yesterday, while walking along the riverbank, Sally slipped and fell into the water when the embankment gave way,” is completely different from, “Sally said yesterday, that she slipped while walking along the riverbank, and fell into the water when the embankment gave way.” Well, Sally could have fallen at any given time prior to her announcement that she had done so. So how would my readers know what I want them to know?

Or how about, “When Dalton was 2 years of age, his father drove a Ford Fairlane,” the reader might infer that when Dalton was 2, it was during the 1960’s. But if I say, “When Dalton was 2 years of age, his father, an antique car dealer, drove a Ford Fairlane,” it will give the reader a different idea of the time.

After days like these, I just want to send the Fairlane off the riverbank and pour a glass of wine.

Just Thinkin’ too Much,


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9 Responses to My erosional forces

  1. Martha says:

    I’ll drink to that! Past, Present, and Future!!

  2. susan joy says:

    Hey Sal,

    Are you evolving into a writing teacher? Or do you just miss class that much.
    Your streamlinin’ baby


  3. pwn says:

    Did you really fall in the river?

  4. MJ says:

    I remember that maple tree.

  5. Steve Lee says:

    Great thoughts! Fortunately for me, I have been able to experience many of those moments along with Sally. I can say that I have never seen her fall in the river but have heard a story about her driving a car into one of the beaches that is forever changing on Cape Cod!

  6. Amy C. says:

    Arianna fell in the river!

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