The following is a list of words (with help from Barry Lopez’ Home Ground) that I associate with my home. I grew up in the Finger Lakes region of central New York State. This is a beautiful rolling countryside that was shaped by glacial forces. I am still deeply connected with the region and my time there continues to influence my creative output. These are all words that I use when describing or talking about my home region. They are intimately embedded in the geography of the land and of my memories. There is a bit of a poem at the end about a particular kind of ice I have not seen anywhere else.
Hanging valley, terminal moraine, drumlin, oxbow, slough, ripple, eddy, rapid, falls, pool, hole, bend, sluice, gulf, gorge, glen, creek, pond, lake, inlet, swamp, hollow, ledge, pothole, pasture, hedgerow, woods, trail, field dump, bottom land, riparian, oak, maple, beech, ash, poplar, willow, spruce, hemlock, hill, ridge, point, rim, dog-leg, run (monkey, rabbit), keyhole, brook, flash flood, snag, strainer, patch, stand, wetland, ditch, swimming hole (Halseyville, gentleman’s lunch, Potter’s falls, double secret, triple secret), spring, woodlot, fork, bog, cut, cutback, point bar, cut-off, oxbow, neck, meander, swale, meander scar, whitewater, flat water, bank, till, drift, glacial erratic, grade, runoff, seep, sill, bowl, artesian, cone of the falls, shelf, “…eroding a cutoff across the neck of a meander, it leaves behind…a meander scar.” William DeBuys, nick point, nook, outcrop, plunge pool, quarry, race, scarp-foot spring, scree, talus, shore, stream, woodland, grove, windbreak, ditch, gully, cutback, hairpin, wetland, dale, tree-tip pit, till (glacial), back forty, lower forty, acre, beaver dam, beaver pond, log jam, beaver trail, deer trail, bedrock, berm, blow down, chute, falls and plunge pool, spathe and spadex, cut bank and point bar, sticks, boonies, east bum fuck, boondocks, Podunk, root wad and tree-tip pit, gulch, levee, sandstone, shale, slate, granite, schist, gneiss, quartz, basalt, blue, green, black, brown and red ice.
The minuscule ice that forms in arctic weather when the falls freezes before it reaches the plunge pool, that mounds and flows over itself at the base of the falls, that meanders and bends with tiny cutbacks and point bars, that jams and breaks through, that flash floods and oxbows, that’s fast freezing and damming, backing up and forming new flows, the ice that repeats this process of infinite modulation, reiterating microscopic riverine behavior, the cone growing higher and wider, is reaching through confounding mist for the nick point in the dead of winter.