A River Runs Through It

In contemplation, Digital, Landscapes, Nature, Uncategorized
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Norman Maclean’s classic novella A River Runs Through It is not a book I would normally pick up, as it’s about fly fishing, a topic that I would expect not to interest me. I read last year it in preparation for a trip to Montana, and I am grateful that I gave it a chance, as it turned out to be about so much more than fly fishing. I have not been able to stop thinking about it. I’ve nearly memorized this quote:

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”
― Norman MacleanA River Runs Through It

This short book contains so much. One thing I loved is how the descriptions of fly fishing sound like the state of flow. According to Wikipedia, “In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time.” I can relate to this feeling because I have occasionally had it while taking photographs, usually with my macro lens (not always with great results). I love the almost literal relationship in the book of the state of flow to the flow of water.

The book also resonated with me because I grew up on the Hudson River and still live nearby. It’s where I go when I need to put my life in perspective. When I was a child, I would marvel at how the river had seen so much, good and bad, and it just continued to flow on through it all. That gave me strength then and still does.

A few years ago, when my daughter and I drove across the US. I felt a sense of home near every river we crossed.


  1. I love that you photographed each river that you crossed. And how each has a different character and yet is still water. But that autumnal image with reflection took my breath away! x

    • Thanks Kirstin! I am still kicking myself for not stopping at the Missouri River. I’ll have to go back!

  2. This is a wonderful, beautiful, thoughtful story, Deirdre. Your photos are striking and catch the sense of “river” very well. The last one really struck home, literally, for me as I grew up near the Columbia and I was startled to see my home landscape in your lovely photo.

    • Thank you so much, Sharon! By the time S and I reached the Columbia River, we were tired and ready to reach our destination, and it took us by surprise! I’m glad we were able to pull over to enjoy it. There’s a petrified forest on the other side that was kind of odd in how low key it was but also had beautiful views. It must have been wonderful growing up there

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