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Topophilia is a word that comes from the Greeks, meaning “love of place.”  Often I find that the more I run a river, the more it becomes a part of me, and me, it.  I find that the more I engage with the same environments, my learning improves and  a deeper understanding of the place increases. It is as if by some kind of osmosis that the spiritual entities enter my body from those unseen, but ambient presence’s that enrich the very  land and water through which I travel.

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My identity soon gets absorbed as much by the place, as the place drinks in me and makes it a part of the very geography itself. Later on when our earth time eventually passes and our personal histories are remembered by the next generation, does our spiritual vapor-trail  help keep the ancestral ties connected to the living.

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For time immemorial, all places get impregnated with behavior of humans engagement with raw nature, and can be remembered by those who do not forget their past connections with those that came before them.  The longer a people live closely to an area, as opposed to sporadically moving around and transplanting new tendrils elsewhere, the stronger is their love of place and sence of connection to it.

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Thus, the original native people, who were first to inhabit any region, have gained the greatest amount of common history tied to a singularity of place. They are closer to the roots of the tree that gave them life, compared to the seeds that get wind blown to the four directions, which start new trees in other places. A seedling is like the tree that gave it flight, but not the parent tree itself.

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Various cultures develop as time progresses and histories are built on experiences that happen between people and their engagement with the places they share together collectively.  Groups get defined by their common pursuits, such as mountain people who travel the high country, or river people who run  rapids in the canyon country. Each becomes a kind of tribe or clan, with specialized abilities that improve their skills and increase their survival  amidst the innate dangers that come with the territory they inhabit.

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As a river person, I appreciate many of the names of rapids that are born of bad experiences others have had there before me. It is a curious aspect of human nature that we like to name things after personal disasters, with the person’s name, like “Scottie’s Drop” or “Wendy’s Rock.”   Though, often it is the trouble itself that gets the name, like “Hell to Pay,” or “Widow Maker.” Or it can even be for some aspect of a certain inherent nemesis a rapid might represent, like “Demon’s Drop” or “Room of Doom.”

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These rapids continue to challenge the people who run them, and the stories created each time add to the power of place. It builds character both to the people and the place. Each becomes something that drives more meaning deep into the planet to make our home in the universe highly charged with life.  The blue dot, seen from space, is due to the watery nature of our planet and the life blood it gives to every form of the living that could not be, without it.

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