… avulsed (part two)

Dear Daughter of the Vineyard,

Yesterday the Yellowstone River compared her own abrupt shifts to your “spectacular blowout!” I described why and when a river/person chooses such an avulsion, but…

Exactly HOW do they do it??

Let’s start with someone like you or your soul sister, the Yellowstone — someone ready for a path with more energy. When she is hit by a flood and empowered a bit, then:

  • she tops her stream bank boundary,
  • travels overland,
  • finds a shortcut to some future point, and
  • Eureka! She immediately carves out this new channel, right toward her goal.

Hold on though. There’s more, and the divine really IS in this detail.

  • She cuts her new channel “backwards” from her destination. True story.
  • First, the water reaches its target and falls abruptly into that “deeper place” the long-suffering river has been craving. Falling water has a near-vertical slope and therefore TONS of power. Did you experience that rush my friend?
  • Then, the energized water shaves off a bit of soil RIGHT THERE on that sheer face. This actually moves the “drop spot” back a few inches from where it started… so the water cuts more soil from this new location. And so on. In this way, the Yellowstone slices her way through intervening obstacles in an upstream direction. Hydrologists call such backward erosion a head cut.

People who successfully blaze a new way of life do the same thing. They find their ideal end-state FIRST — maybe they see it in someone else’s life or even in a dream — and work back from there.

Easy? Yes and no.

You have FELT a head-cut, my friend. Would you agree with the Yellowstone that it’s temporarily painful and messy to leave the safe course?

Here’s a New England stream immediately after her latest avulsion:

It takes time to re-establish the fine finish of any new path. But as you and the Yellowstone both demonstrate, the final result is vibrant — not only for the river but also for the living things that share her voyage. The quicker new channel provides more rapids with plenty of oxygenation and potential nesting sites for fish. The abandoned oxbow ponds serve as a whole other, necessary ecosystem:

Congratulations on your blowout, dear friend! And many thanks not only for your letter but also for the following, perfectly fitting, reminder:

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. – Helen Keller

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