of mighty waters: Kerr Dam, Jacques Cousteau and the Tao Te Ching


Kerr Dam.

The concrete arch-type dam stands at 204 feet high, which is 54 feet higher than Niagara Falls. A 1,000 foot boardwalk takes you down, right above the falls, where you can enjoy an amazing view of the canyon! In the spring and early summer, the spillway is fantastic. Picnicking, white-water rafting, fishing, vista overlook.   The stairs are wood, and are built right into the side of the mountain.  With the high altitude, it’s easy going down, but not so easy going up!

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Hearing the roar of the water made me think of poetry and literature, naturally.

“from the waterfall he named her, Minnehaha, Laughing Water.”   (Longfellow)

I also thought of the ways we use water–and this dam is a hydroelectric dam. From what I heard, if it was operating on all three turbines (it operates on one but has three) it would provide electricity for something like four states.   The water was so green, so clean as glacier water is, I remember how the other day I was immersed in that same water and I know in my heart there is no way I could ever be a child of land.

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This water is ages old, ages older than any of us.  In relation, humanity is very young, and as the young are wont to be, very foolish in the way we treat the land and this ancient water.   It made me think of Jacques Cousteau.

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And water makes me think of the Tao te Ching, which asks us to be more like water, which is supple and bends round whatever it is in its path, and with patient strength cuts canyons in mountains.  Its advice to be yielding is in direct contention with the way American life seems to work.  There is something about the roar of the water, a rhythm, that speaks to me like the sound of the womb does to the baby not yet born, and I remember that I am as dependent upon this earth as a baby in the womb.

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Water has a magic that is a mystery–many people were drawn down that 1000 foot long boardwalk down the mountain to listen to and marvel at that beautiful, pure, green-blue water.   And this, the nameless song in my soul that calls out to water.

All day I hear the noise of waters 
Making moan, 
Sad as the sea-bird is when, going 
Forth alone, 
He hears the winds cry to the water’s 
Monotone. 

The grey winds, the cold winds are blowing 
Where I go. 
I hear the noise of many waters 
Far below. 
All day, all night, I hear them flowing 
To and fro.

—James Joyce

 

 

 

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