The White Nile and the Blue Nile, separate tributaries emerge farther on to form the Nile, the longest river on earth. This is the river that history teachers have been telling us about since the beginning of history books. As school children – in the US – we learned that once a year this river overflowed the banks and left an extremely rich soil in its wake. Without this the crops would fail and the people would starve.
Wow! Imagine having to depend on a flood each year for survival. The early people of the region relied on their god RA for protection: They knew if the flood was too large they would be washed away; if too little they would not produce enough food to sustain them throughout the year. Mythology of the region also mentions the river god Hapy, who personifies the floods and the fertility of the region.
In length, the Nile is 4,132 miles long. It begins in the south mountains of East Africa and flows onward to the Mediterranean in the north. Lesser rivers such as the Blue Nile, the White Nile and the Arbora flows into it. The monsoon rains of Ethiopia feeds the Nile during its flood season which is sometime between June and September.
The question arises as to what the people do during the flood season? Surely they don’t all take to higher ground and wait it out. They of course live beyond the flooded fields and carry on their business of commerce and buying and selling and they do pretty as the rest of the world now does, I suppose. But in antiquity they built pyramids and repaired their chariots and did other household chores.
Although their calendar had – has? – twelve months of thirty days each, they had – have? – only three seasons, Akhat, meaning inundation; Peret, meaning the growing season; Shema, meaning the drought or dry season. Egypt, of course, according to Herodotus, an early Italian historian, was “the gift of the Nile”.
What is the second largest river? The amazing Amazon, no less. Although some believe that it is the longest, and I, before my research, included myself in with that group, it is second. Although it loses by a few miles as to being the longest, volume wise it is the deepest. This river that runs through some still unexplored territory, drains the northern half of the South American continent. What makes it so fabulous is the exotic wild life found in the river and on the land alongside.
Living in the tri-state area where the mighty Ohio joins Kentucky, West Virginia, and the state of Ohio, I am disappointed to learn the Ohio river is only the seventh largest in the United States. The longest in this country is Missouri, then Mississippi, Yukon, St. Lawrence, Arkansas and so on. The length matters not of course since all rivers are parts of our earths drainage systems that lead onward toward the sea.
They are fed by creeks and hollers and ravines and puddles and yes, of course, spring rains and whatever else dampens the earth. If we who use them are clean and respectful to the earth in our habits, they will likewise be. May they roll on in peace sustaining what needs be sustained. Our own bodily drainage systems are minute replicas. In the future we hope to take better care of both.