River Wading

DSC09508When the days get hot, I like to take a cooling wade along the shady banks of the river behind our house. Some would call this a creek or stream, and with the lack of rain this DSC09479summer, it’s lower than normal and less deep. Regardless, the water is clear, cool and refreshing for wading.

Every year, the river changes depending on how the water carves the bed as it passes through. Floods create dramatic changes. Hurricane Irene eroded whole banks and reconstructed the landscape. Smaller floods create deep pools, which later will be filled up again. This year, the bed downstream has small stones, gravel and sandy flats that make walking so much easier than slipping over 5-6″ cobbles. A good year for wading!


The dipping pool

There is a spot where the water has carved a hollow that is chest-deep. With a quick bend of the knees, I can completely submerge, giving me welcome relief from the heat.

It is peaceful here. I never see a soul, though the state highway passes not more than twenty feet from the bend. Foliage cloaks the banks, birds twitter and flit in and out searching for sustenance. I hear the ‘zee-zee’ call of cedar waxwings, the scolding cry of a catbird or the chittering of a belted kingfisher as it cruises upstream. Occasionally, a frog will plop in a quiet pool. I see animal tracks– deer, raccoon, mink and otter, letting me know that others use this river, too.

DSC09557Little minnows nibble around my feet as I stir up sediment and debris with each step. Sometimes, I spy a crawfish, but mostly only pieces of them left behind after a critter has had a meal. Small invertebrates like caddisfly cling to stones and water striders skate the pools.

DSC09549The stones themselves are interesting to look at. They have tumbled for eons, their sharp edges long since smoothed. I love the ones that have veins of quartz running through them or the perfectly round ones that feel smooth in my hand. Slices of gneiss make great skipping stones.

Occasionally, I find a treasure, a broken piece of pottery or piece of glass worn smooth.

DSC09517Recently, tucked into the eddy formed behind a large stone, I discovered a 2-1/2″ shard from a Flow Blue dish. Flow Blue pottery dates from the early 1800’s, so it could be at least 150 years old. How long did it flow downstream to come to rest here for me to find?

I once found a piece of a Staffordshire plate with Franklin’s Moral Maxims printed on it, circa 1830’s. My kitchen windowsill is chock-full of finds and bowls overflow with broken pottery. Some day, perhaps I’ll make a mosaic out them.

Up until the creation of a central town dump site (after the internal combustion engine became commonplace), folks threw their junk ‘over the bank,’ which included the river for those living along side it. It may be the origin of the term, ‘to throw something away,’ because the river would carry a lot of it out of sight.

Behind most old houses there lies a midden of discards. As kids, we loved to hunt for treasure in one behind our house. Parents today would be horrified to see their children pawing through broken glass, rusty cans and wire, but we were careful and I don’t recall any of us being injured or getting tetanus. We proudly showed our found treasures to our mother, who was just happy that we were occupied and weren’t underfoot. But I digress.


Green and gold reflections

Let’s go cool off at the river and see what we can find…


Deer tracks and reflections

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
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77 Responses to River Wading

  1. Sweet lord what a luxury to have such wonderful river behind your house. It looks so lovely with the clear water and nice stones (and tracks!). I like the way you write about it (and also digress 🙂 ) really great. So I enjoy this post with the beautiful photo’s and am stinking jealous at the same time 🙂

  2. MK says:

    I feel much relaxed just reading & looking at your pictures. My Frieda & Rufus would so love to go wading in your river, while I see what great finds await me. Sometimes envy is refreshing!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      🙂 I hoped it would have a cooling effect on my readers!
      The dogs would absolutely love it. Although today, Wren wanted to explore the smells more than wade downstream. 😉

  3. Val Boyko says:

    Gosh, now that would be such a treat! It looks like a wonderful place to dips your toes and let the day refresh itself!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      It is indeed a treat and such a gift, Val. I went down this afternoon for a dip with Wren and it was indeed delightful to cool off and recalibrate my mind. 😉

  4. Alice Pratt says:

    Eliza: what a beautiful post, the way you describe & take photos is awesome, especially for anyone who enjoys nature! I love the reflection of the clouds. What a beautiful place to enjoy and wade. And how exciting to find treasures! Some of my windowsills & definitely dishes, etc, have lots of found treasures from walks in the woods or on the beach. Some people understand the significance. Others think it’s a “mess.” 😍😕

  5. Spy Garden says:

    Your property really is a paradise. A cool creek/river is on of my top favorite places to be!!

  6. Thankyou for sharing this beautiful part of your world Eliza. It connects us all to the gift of nature. 🙂

  7. I grew up near a river and that energy has ALWAYS stayed with me.

  8. Widdershins says:

    I used to live near a creek like that as a kid. After each heavy rain, you never knew what treats would await. 😀

  9. treah says:

    You’re so lucky to have this in your backyard.

  10. David says:

    Your thoughts brought back a flood of memories of when we had a creek beside our house when I was a kid. Like you said, something new to find after a good storm.

  11. What a delightful place you describe and show through your photographs. I can imagine both kids and adults enjoying themselves there!

  12. I love this post. 🙂 What a treasure to have such a peaceful river so close. I would have been there wading and treasure hunting alongside you. 🙂

  13. Brian Skeys says:

    Lovely post, I was almost there with you.

  14. jenanita01 says:

    I envy you the peace and calm, but thank you for allowing me to share it, it did me the world of good today…

  15. Bun Karyudo says:

    It’s great to have this just behind your house. I wish we had something similar. If it rains a lot, we do occasionally get some big puddles, but somehow it’s just not the same.

  16. bittster says:

    What a perfect summertime post, your river sounds like a great place to unwind and just soak up the natural world.
    btw I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to find and follow your blog, I love it!

  17. Jewels says:

    Beautiful post Eliza! ❤

  18. dorannrule says:

    Leave it to you to blend history and stories and treasures whilst wading in that magnificent little waterway. And how beautiful your photos are. I absolutely love this post.

  19. Absolutely beautiful – amazing how you can be so close to the road and civilization, and seem a world away.

  20. Laurie Graves says:

    Lovely, lovely post! What a treat for an oppressive day—it’s hotter than heck in central Maine. Believe it or not, I am ready for fall.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Laurie. You need a river to dip into or a little cove on one of those lovely lakes. Does wonders to bring the core body temp down. Hope you’re enjoying Dee’s visit…been thinking of you all week!

  21. Thanks for this wonderfully cool and evocative post, sorely needed on this blistering hot day on the Chesapeake.

  22. Lovely post, Eliza. I lived by a small river/stream for most of my life and it was never without the treasures of old rubbish, minnows, sunlight, and peace.

  23. Kris P says:

    Nature’s swimming pool – heaven! I can well imagine your pleasure in this place, Eliza.

  24. Jane Lurie says:

    How great to take a walk with you, Eliza. And you are great at identifying flowers and noticing nature’s details. Terrific post.

  25. Maria F. says:

    That last image is beautiful. Great reflections! I enjoyed them, and the concept of “wading” is very nicely explained. We also have shallow ‘wading’ beaches here. I like the word now!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Maria. I’ve loved wading all my life. As kids, my sister and I would wade as soon as we could, early in the spring (even against my mother’s wishes) – we could not stay out of the water!

  26. Cathy says:

    Such a lovely post Eliza! So refreshing and nostalgic too. It reminds me of the brook we played in when I was a child, building harbours for homemade boats, wading under the bridge and daring each other to jump! It sounds a wonderful place to cool down. 🙂

  27. ladygrace33 says:

    What a beautiful place 🙂

  28. dianaed2013 says:

    How I enjoyed your river – wonderful to be able to see it in all seasons – it looks so peaceful

  29. Kathy Sturr says:

    So refreshing Eliza! What a lovely river – and really love those stones. So interesting about the pottery and not so much about “throwing it away” – how naive we can be at times. I just spent a week on a wonderful little lake (not the one my property is on, but close by) – what is it about water? I feel as refreshed as your post!

  30. Ok, Eliza – I’m jealous! You have a place in your backyard to cool off, treasure hunt, and take great photos. 🙂

  31. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    I love this post, Eliza! Your pictures and thoughts are all so beautiful. I especially love the reflections of the clouds, but they are all really special!

  32. Heather says:

    I love your river! Thanks for sharing it with us 🙂
    I’m glad that we are less ignorant about “throwing things away” than we once were, and that it has become much less socially acceptable to dump things. We’re not perfect, but we’re improving.

  33. I LOVE this post! Here in Lake County IL I am surrounded by small lakes, but people have hastened to build all around them and access is extremely limited. Humph. But yesterday I ventured down to a public beach (well. public if you live there but nobody came to stop me) in the town where my daughter has OT. A whole hour to play! I was a kid again, wading and splashing and then standing still to watch the little fishies nibble my toes. Like you I marveled at all the life that was going on a mere few yards from a highway. Also like you, I grew up with a wonderful old midden in a nearby field. How fascinating it was to prowl through there, poking into very old car skeletons, glass bottles, etc.

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