Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Elizabeth River

Today, another encore blog from March 2012,
this one about the Elizabeth River, 
which stretches south a few blocks from our house.
Where I grew up in the Midwest, rivers are characteristically muddy.
The Elizabeth River is a tidal river,
so it often appears bluish although the water is not clear.
Even so, I love to walk down and sit on the pier when weather permits.

The centuries-old Elizabeth Cittie Shire shares its name
with the Elizabeth River*,
a tidal river with three branches that flow
from the port of Hampton Roads,
"roads" being a shortened form of roadstead,
 a protected body of water near shoreline
such that ships can safely drop anchor
for an interval of idleness.

The Elizabeth is neither long nor wide,
only flowing about 6 miles before it meets the Intracoastal Waterway
and only about 2 miles across.

Our patch of woods lies along the Southern Branch,
 and it is but a short walk for us to visit the water.

The last time we were there, it was low tide.

During low tide, the water pulls back slowly from the shore 
 and we are left with mucky flats and muddy stretches,
but the water rolls in as high tide somewhere else on earth.

The ebb and flow of the tides reminds me
of these lines of verse from the Tao Te Ching:

"The Tao of heaven is like the bending of a bow.
The high is lowered, and the low is raised.
If the string is too long, it is shortened.
If there is not enough, it is made longer.
The Tao of heaven is to take from those who have too much
and give to those who do not have enough."

Lao-Tzu reminds us "high and low rest upon each other,"
and that is the source of the tidal river's harmony.
* (see the blog post "A History of this Virginia Shire" in the February 2012 archive)

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