Looking to the rivers

Riverside in winter

In BluHum, you are encouraged to think oceanically – but, as it was pointed out, when you think of everything as ocean, and of the ocean as everything, then you really lose the sense of what really makes the ocean the ocean – of what defines it.

A question popped in my head – would the ocean exist without rivers? A secondary question – would rivers exist without the ocean?

I am not the master of hydrology or physiography, I cannot answer either of these questions. I suppose an ocean could exist without rivers. But rivers have to go somewhere, they must have a destination, and that destination is the ocean.

Are rivers less important than the ocean, then?

I suppose you can’t say that any part of the world is less important than the other – they’re all important in equal measure, though important in varying measures to each and every individual.

File:Vistula river map-clean.png - Wikimedia Commons
The Vistula River and some of its tributaries. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Rivers delineate my country, roughly 50% of it. Rivers have been important to trade and movement of people since the archaic times. Rivers can be polluted. Rivers can carry death. Rivers can carry pollution into the seas and oceans. What we put into rivers matters to the marine environments, even though they are hundreds of miles away. Rivers flood. Rivers destroy livelihoods. Rivers work as settlement enablers. Rivers are blue bodies. Rivers create blue spaces. Rivers make habitats. Rivers are navigable. Rivers lead places. Rivers connect.

Poland beach map
Map of the waterways of Poland. Author: Paweł Ciechański

I am not from the UK. Poland’s coastline is 1032 km long, while the Vistula River is 1047 km long. There are thousands and thousands more of kilometres of riversides. While the sea is important, it looms over us that rivers may actually be more important to local histories and identities (collective and individual) than the sea.

The sea is always out there, but more often than not it is abstract or limited to a week by the sea spent each year on overcrowded beaches by the Baltic.

Published by kotersey

Graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a First in geography, and from the University of Brighton with a Master's in history of design and material culture. Probably drinking iced coffee and thinking about buildings.

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