The faces of the river

My favorite part of my commute is when I cross the Potomac River. I cross it twice a day, once in the morning on the way into work and once in the late afternoon, on my way home. When I cross the river, I usually stop what I am doing (usually reading) to stare out the window. I like the river better in the morning than in the afternoon, unless it’s raining. What’s great about it (and I’m sure about most rivers) is that the river seems to have many personalitities, and after crossing it an estimated 1,800 times in the last 4 years, I’ve come to give names to several of them.

For instance, yesterday morning, the river looked like its surface was a layer of slightly wrinkled serran wrap. I call it the “plastic wrap” river. Yesterday afternoon, the river had a distinctly green look to it, and I call that the “Chicago River” look. On some mornings, it’s good a rich brown and muddy look to it, something I call the “Mississippi” immitation. After it rains, you can see lots of junk floating in the water, and at those times I call it the “East” river. On windy days you can see white caps and on cold, cold mornings the river is almost perfectly still and the reflection of the bridges that span it are nearly perfect.

There was nothing like this river on my commute when I lived in L.A. and it says a lot, I think, that after four plus years of commuting on the train into work here in the Metro D.C. area, I still always pause to look at the river and see which of its faces is looking back at me.


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