The Ripple: River Seasons

Stream Songs

Rivers, as flowing water, can be soothing to the ear, or overpowering with noise, depending on the river’s bed or soundscape. Protruding rocks may be the only visible evidence of what creates the sounds a river or stream makes as water tumbles over and around boulders and pebbles. Sounds of water have long been equated with well-being and are soothing to the human spirit; with recordings, practically anyone can listen to a river or stream and imagine the water flowing right outside one’s window. City plaza fountains around the world add to the well being of city dwellers and draw people to their sounds, providing a gathering place for relaxation and socializing.

As water levels often drop this time of year, during the summer, the sounds of moving water may become softened and even silent, to be restored by rain storms. Even slight waterfalls offer a murmur of sound if enough water flows past the stones. The sounds of flowing water in the mountains have been known to save people’s lives, leading them to safety, or at the least providing them with life-sustaining water. Even in winter, the muted voice of a stream can be heard flowing under the ice, and seldom here in New England does a stream freeze entirely.

The sounds of moving water keep us in tune with the fact that water is a major part of us, not only physically sustaining us, but also reminding us emotionally and spiritually that all life depends on water. Prose and poetry have praised the beauty of the sound of water to the human ear, reminding us of the “ties that bind us” to all life, not only to humanity.


Phoebe Gelbard

Phoebe is a teacher at Biocitizen and is currently studying environmental psychology and natural resources conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Phoebe has lived in the Pioneer Valley for all 19 years of her life, and when she is not leading young children through the rivers and woods of Western MA, she can be found doing the same with her friends and family. Check out this monthly column, The Ripple, here on Hilltown Families on the 4th Monday of every month to hear his stories about rivers in our region. Make the world of rivers bigger than the world of pavement inside of you!




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