Sideglances
by SARAH GREENE
sgreene@etex.net
Sep 15, 2012 | 621 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
UNLIKE MANY of his predecessors as president ot the United States, Jimmy Carter has not lived a life dominated by politics. Since leaving the high office in 1981 he has become, in the words of an article in the most recent issue of Nature Conservancy magazine, “a champion of all rivers.”

For that quarterly President Carter wrote a first-person story, The Way to Think About Rivers, in which he describes how he has been influenced by living in rural Georgia.

“My journey as an environmentalist began in the rivers and creeks around my home,” he wrote, continuing:

“Since our ancestors moved into southwest Georgia our family farm has been nourished by Choctahatchee and Kinchafoonee creeks, and for more than 80 years I have relished and enjoyed these watersheds.

“A lifetime of fishing, swimming and birding has helped me learn firsthand that all aspects of our lives are tied to the health of our free-flowing streams. . .”

IN THIS MODERN era of dam-building for flood control and water supplies, John Graves addressed the subject in his most important book, Goodbye to a River.

This is a “semi-historical” account of a canoe trip made by the author in 1957 down a stretch of the Brazos River between Possum Kingdom Dam and Lake Whitney in North Central Texas.

It includes stories about the history and settlement of the area around the river. The title refers to Graves’ childhood association with the river and the country surrounding it, and his fear of the “drowning” effect that a proposed series of dams would have on the river.

Only three of the dams were built on the river, but at one time up to 13 were proposed along its course to the Gulf of Mexico. Goodbye to a River has been called a major reason that the proposed dams were never built.

AS A GILMER public school student in the long-ago days when memorizing poetry was emphasized, i enjoyed the work of the Southern poet, Sidney Lanier (1842-1881).

He considered a river poem, Song of the Chattahoochee, to be his best yet when he completed it in 1877.

Here is the first of five verses:

Out of the hills of Habersham,

Down the valleys of Hall,

I hurry amain to reach the plain,

Run the rapid and leap the fall,

Split at the rock and together again,

Accept my bed, or narrow or wide,

And flee from folly on every side

With a lover’s pain to attain the plain

Far from the hills of Habersham,

Far from the valleys of Hall.

HAVING contracted tuberculosis while a Union prisoner-of-war during the Civil War, Sidney Lanier traveled extensively in North Georgia in a futile effort to restore his health.

The “valleys of Hall” mentioned in the poem would become Lake Sidney Lanier in 1953 — proving that not even the power of poetry can overcome a strong political/economic trend like dam-building.
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