Posted by: A Part of the Solution | April 4, 2010

The Potomac Watershed

On my farm, I’m exactly at the top of the Potomac Watershed. Look closely at a good map of Bedford County. Look carefully at that detailed map. We’re on the south side of our road. And south of our property is Bushy Fork creek. And that creek heads south to join up with Potomac, only 25 miles further south.

Across the road, and over the ridge, the water flows north. It flows north to the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. And the Juniata River flows east into the Susqehanna River. Both the Potomac and the Susquehanna contribute to the Chesapeake Bay.

I’m a child of my upbringing, and it just seems wrong for water to flow north. Water, in my experience, is meant to flow east and south. It’s meant to go into the Chesapeake Bay. This ‘given’ in the geometry of my soul is amongst the reasons this piece of land felt right to me. Further north in the county and all that water is heading north–or east but into the Juniata. I like being where the water does what it should. I require the Potomac Watershed somewhere in my core assumptions.

I used to vacation in a cabin in West Virginia. That cabin was south of Davis and Thomas. And the creek there flowed north. I found the behavior of the water there disconcerting. I couldn’t help but feeling uneasy in waters headed not just north; but north to Pittsburgh and across the Ohio and into the Mississippi and down to the Gulf of Mexico. Somehow I knew I was out of my watershed. And after a few years, I didn’t go down to bathe in the creek anymore. I became too unsettled to enjoy the experience.

Yes, I am a bit parochial in my expectations. Yes, all over the world the water goes here and there feeding into strange rivers and distant oceans. Yes, this is appropriate behavior on the part of all that hydration and condensation and continental drainage. I have no quarrel with these different watersheds. But I don’t want to live where the water behaves in foreign and unaccountable ways.

I cheerfully insist on the locality of our farm to the persons joining our CSA. I patiently explain how nearby my farm is to the DC Metropolitan region. I am comfortable doing so, as I know we all share the one watershed. I might be at the very tippy-top of the Potomac Watershed, but by gosh that’s exactly where we are. Our water flows decently south. Our spring feeds the river and bay which have defined the vast majority of my life experience. Our seasonal runs drain into Bushy Fork and from thence to Town Creek (by way of Wilson’s Run) and swiftly to the Potomac above Harper’s Ferry.

Think globally, act locally. Dream globally, eat locally. Rock your locavore and enhance your soul with food grown in native soil and fed by the region’s waters. This is where I live. This is the top of the Potomac Watershed.


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