The featured photo is the Rio Grande as it goes through the San Luis Valley. I didn’t take this picture. It’s from the Western Rivers Conservancy. The river threads and meanders as it heads south with GREAT determination to meet up with the Gulf of Mexico.
Even in the small area that is my slough I get to meet up with a couple of riverbends.
Down by Taos, where the plateau that is the San Luis Valley begins to drop off, the river speeds up and flows in a somewhat less meandering path. It carves a dramatic canyon where, for a few months every spring, white-water rafters have a great time. Tectonic forces have also lifted the land as the river has flowed, and meandering of the ancient river is deeply carved into the plateau — this is very apparent in aerial photos of the Colorado River going through the Grand Canyon.
Once the landscape calms down, the river calms down, too and meanders through Albuquerque down to El Paso.
While this might seem like a simple blog post about a meandering river, it’s actually an argument for liberal education. Yeah, I grew up to be an English teacher, but my favorite subjects were geology and physics. I even won two science fair prizes in 8th grade — one from the National Petroleum Institute — for my my project on the formation of Mt. Moran in the Grand Tetons. How the world (meaning the planet) forms itself and the rules to which it abides fascinate me. If I hadn’t been forced to take geology in 8th grade, I wouldn’t be writing this post now or showing you photos of “my” river. I might not even know what my river is doing or why.
I used to argue that with my business students who resented the classes they had to take that had “nothing to do with business.” They just wanted out so they could start making the “big bucks.” I would tell them that their job would just take up their days. What would they do on weekends? What would they talk about at company banquets, sitting next to someone’s wife or husband and wanting to make a good impression? What would they see when they went on vacation? What would they understand when they watched a movie that might be filled with literary allusions? How would they understand the meaning behind special effects in a film about an asteroid hitting the Earth?
I don’t know if my arguments sank in or not, but, for myself, I’m glad I had classes in the sciences even though (in college) I never passed any of the exams in my required intro courses. Formulas and the initals for chemicals do not mix well with dyslexia. BUT I did fine with a box of rocks, field trips and pictures of geological features, well enough to pass with a D, anyway. Well enough to love a river and be thrilled by an earthquake.