The absolute beauty of rivers is overwhelming. And we sometimes dare to forget that with their steady, rhythmic flow, they are the arteries that sustain life. Thoughtless pollution by man is clogging these arteries to the detriment of all life.
At first glance, the Yadkin River beyond Winston-Salem appeared to be almost covered with chunks of ice or snow the day after Christmas. Perhaps someone knows what these great puffs of white were and for what reason they were on the river. Certainly they were not snow or ice.Continuing west that day, other rivers and streams were gently flowing until the French Broad River at Asheville. Ice was developing along the edge of the river and was being covered with lightly falling snow.
Both Interstate 40 West and the Pigeon River fight their way in and around the mountains into the Tennessee Valley. This little river was spectacular, frozen and iced over with snow! High above, the tops of mountains were clothed with rime.
The French Broad River flows much wider as it enters Tennessee. Except for a narrow ribbon of water, it was frozen over and covered with snow. Despite a warming trend, its face had not altered two days later.
The Holston River that borders Knoxville on the east had not bowed to the severe winter weather. Its dark waters continued their flow to the sea.
Our mountains are always beautiful, but they are incredibly so in winter. Huge draperies of thick ice formed where little waterfalls tumbled down and where water oozed from terraced rock cliffs.
The Empress trees, Paulownia tomentosa, really stand out more now than when in leaf. Their upright clusters of flower buds and seed pods, each individual one topped with snow, makes one aware of the great number of these trees along I-40 West.
Coves of the tulip tree, Liriodendron Tulipifera, stand as straight as arrows, their limbs lifted skyward. They bear out the legend that years ago other trees of the forest accused the poplar of thievery. To prove their innocence, each tree raised its limbs to show that it had nothing to hide.
The sycamore or buttonwood tree, Platanus occidentalis, stands prominent in winter, also. Exfoliating, its bark is splotched greenish-gray and white. Unfortunately this lovely tree does not make a good lawn specimen. Its round seed heads open up to beige fuzz to blow in the wind, but they are fine along our highways.
Stands of river birch, Betula nigra, are noted along the rivers and streams, handsome in winter. Their exfoliating bark is reddish-brown and give the trees a shaggy appearance. These trees are being used for landscaping now, more than in recent years.
The American white birch, Betula papyrifera, is more outstanding than the river birch, but it is prone to insect damage, and as a gardener from Ohio said, it usually loses its head, but why does its top die?
As we enter the last decade of this century, it is the duty and privilege of each of us to be more aware of our immediate surroundings and of the world. Like the rivers, trees are life-giving in so many ways. They are a renewable resource, but only if they have space to grow.
Destruction of natural resources and bulging landfills will be major issues in the years ahead. ``Waste not, want not' has taken on added meaning for manufacturers of plastic resins and products, according to the Council for Solid Waste Solutions. They are finding more ways to reduce the amount of solid waste that winds up in landfills.
CSWS notes that millions of pounds of manufacturing waste, once earmarked for burial in landfills, now are being recycled or reused for a whole host of consumer and industrials products. Many products such as drainpipes, highway cones and bumpers, and office supplies are now made from plastic scrap.
CSWS further notes that waste reduction programs are designed to prevent the generation of waste, recycle, reuse or reclaim wastes whenever possible and reduce the volume that is generated. One achievement of these programs is the encouragement of the attitude that ``landfills are the last resort.'
For Polysar Inc., less than one half of one percent of its 750 million pounds of polystyrene pellets enters landfills. DuPont's Sabine River Works in Orange, Texas, has reduced the landfilling of waste polymer from 800,000 pounds a year to zero.
We as individuals can do our share by reusing and recycling much of the material that we place at the street to be carried to the landfill.