Ever since I moved near the D.C. waterfront, the Potomac River has silently shaped my movement. I sidle along it to leave the city and head into Maryland. I must cross it by way of one of two or three bridges to reach Virginia.
As I’ve written before, I’m not really a water person. I attribute that to being from a landlocked part of my home state, where the only body of water near home was a small creek (prounounced “crick”) outside of town.
But while I’m not a water person, I like open spaces. An Iowa girl accustomed to her share of breathing room, the river is one of few areas in the city where I can soak in uninterrupted sky.
Beyond the space aspect, though, I never paid much attention to the Potomac. It became part of the background of daily life.
Sifting through some of the year’s photos recently, I noticed that the Potomac River occupied a prominent place in my 2015– not just the openness around it, but the river itself.
I welcomed the chance to greet the day with a Potomac River ride or to watch the sunset over it. I’ve observed how the day’s light alters its character. I’ve watched the trees progress from bare to full to now almost fully bare again.
I like checking in on these Potomac trees. Every-changing, they don’t all grow straight up to the sky, you know. Some lean slightly over the river.
The willows remind me of home, of a tree my sisters and I used to secretly swing on (or not so secretly since our parents occasionally caught us in the act) when we were young.
I can see how the storms and weather of seasons past have taken their toll on some of these trees. Others appear unfazed by the passing of time. Their wide and sturdy trunks make for prime bike parking.
When I choose alternate river-free routes for my weekday duties, my day seems unsettled, less satisfying in some way. The Potomac River route is usually the long way, but it skirts the crowded street-light, herky jerky, traffic-filled downtown. Time slows down by the river, cars are comparatively few, and I can roll my thoughts around as I ride.
You have to know where to go to find quiet in the city. Morning river encounters became almost necessary pre-work moments of calm this year.
If I am running late, I run or ride by without stopping, but generally I try to couch my morning rides and runs with a few extra minutes for river conversation.
The river and the area around it became an important place for reflection in 2015. I still don’t know the Potomac well, and since I never plan to boat or kayak on it we will likely only ever be distant friends. Still, its steady presence was a source of comfort and peace.
Looking through my photos, I realized I had 12 months of Potomac River views. I gathered them into this post to remember time spent by the river this year.
I completely understand. Some places just become a part of you without knowing it, and it’s only through reflection that you realize how integral they are to your daily life. Also, there’s something about enjoying a sunset on a bike (or making it a destination). I too feel much better about my day when I have one of those rides.
Wonderful post Mary! Oh! And hello from Iowa!!
Nice post. I know the feeling. Every day I cycle around and through Stanley Park in Vancouver. It is situated by the sea, and like you, I have photos of my commute throughout the year.
Your photos are lovely–they could even be a calendar. I suspect you are more of a water person than you believe. Thanks for sharing your reflection.
The pictures and your writing are so beautiful…they touched my heart tonight 🙂
Watching the seasons change along the riverside was mighty satisfying.
Fantastic entry Mary! So peaceful and calm. As the river is never the same twice, neither are you who rides along it! Happy Holidays!
i understand. My bicycle commute for the past 14 years has taken me along a twisty, winding, parkway perched on the side of a ridge overlooking Lake Superior. It’s 400 ft above the great lake. For six miles everyday in all seasons I watch the many moods of the big lake from this vantage point. The sky and lake never look the same. Now I find myself contemplating a job change. I wonder if I should turn down all jobs that take me in another direction away from Lake. It has become a big part of each day for me.