Friday, May 29, 2009

Riverside places (1)

May 29

Just west of Watertown square the Charles river plunges some five feet to its death. The violence of this act is diffused in the long, smooth contour of the spillway, the roar and splash of the rebounding water, the assiduity of the gulls (and occasional humans) who fish here, and above all in the serenity and peace of this spot. It is nonetheless true that the river as such meets its end here. What continues on to join the Atlantic ocean at Boston harbor is not a river at all but the Charles River basin, an artificial body of water whose level and flow are regulated by the dam at its eastern end, the counterpart to this falls. In between falls and dam the water flows, but at an engineered rate, at the whim, one might say, of the hydrologists. Though it still looks and feels like a river, that fact of regulation changes just a little the way I feel about the lower Charles--and makes me appreciate all the more the vitality, the wildness even, of this place. 

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