ash swamp brook confluence hinsdale nh february


The February sun sets over the low terrace where Fort Hinsdale once stood, on the north point above the meeting of the Connecticut and Ash Swamp Brook.

Confluence means ‘a flowing together.’ In a literal sense, it is about rivers. But it’s often used to talk about the coming together of ideas or cultures as well. Swirls, eddies, currents, cycles, transitions… Nothing changes, yet everything changes. It is said one can never step in the same river twice. Perhaps the message is not that all things are changing so that we cannot encounter them twice, but something much more subtle and profound: it is that some things stay the same only by changing. A river is a river because it is moving and shifting. Here constancy and change are not opposed but inextricably connected.

On seeing: The boundaries and labels we encounter on our modern-day maps are relatively recent political and historical constructs springing from a Western worldview. It can be difficult to view the land clearly with this tangled overlay of demarcations, polities, and hierarchies. If one can see beyond the arbitrary notions that this is Vermont, and that is New Hampshire, for example, and begin to think in terms of watersheds, and in terms of hundreds, if not thousands of years, then the true face of the country begins to appear. This is the Dawnland: N’dakinna. A land from before time, a land that begins anew each day. The same water that flows here  now has coursed down the valley of the Kwanitekw for thousands of years, to the ocean and back, in towering clouds with crashing thunder and twisting, silvery rivulets wending down the mountainsides to return to the gathering valley below.


Published by


The world is a big place. This is how it appears to me. Your results may differ.

6 thoughts on “Confluence”

  1. I’ll dig up one or two of my old papers that deal with manmade structures and labels superimposed upon the landscape (the fiction of maps). My paper deals with the notion of international borders and human’s apparent dependence on them for cultural definition — as opposed to an animal’s disregard for such things (a wolf in particular). I think you’ll enjoy it.
    Also, you might like to read about OR-7, the famous Oregon wolf that traveled to California to find a mate and establish his own territory. From Sierra Club’s magazine:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would like to read your papers on that topic – thank you! It’s a concept that fascinates me; I like that expression “the fiction of maps.” I am quite struck by the arbitrariness of the Connecticut River, for example, being a state border as compared to the natural watershed territories used by the Abenaki. It makes so much more sense, and would even function better in our twenty-first century world. I will check out the wolf travelogue as well. Thank you again!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.