A couple canoes through the quiet waters of the Shenandoah River in Bentonville, Virginia.
Let your imagination go along with the flow of this great river.
Gilded by spring sunrise, the Shenandoah ripples and rolls gently into the misty light. There is muscular exuberance in its rapids, danger in its floods. But on most days the river welcomes even novice explorers with lyric grace. Virginia naturalist Henry Heatwole called this a land of "small and simple pleasures." Carrying bits of fall's color, the North Fork sparkles over aquatic grasses carpeting its stream bed
Massanutten Mountain matches curves with the South Fork, watching over Page Valley and the Blue Ridge rising in the east, here ridge and river find accommodation, folding around each other, ancient comrades settled comfortably with time. The river, hip deep, crystal clear, bath warm and just 30 or 40 yards wide, soothing both to the eye and overheated body.
Bound by mountains a quarter of a billion years old, the river meandering forks drop sharply from highland headwaters, flowing northward to their confluence at Fort Royal. From there a single channel continues for 60 miles to meet the Potomac. Beginning and ending above the fall line, the river never meets the sea.
The waters of forgetfulness do not flow in this valley, where even the sky seems to remember the storm of civil war that blew up and down the Shenandoah. Each May historical reenactors join Virginia Military Institute cadets on New Market battlefield. They honor valor, Union and Confederate alike. Reminded of old struggles, we remember to treasure peace flowing through the land, gentle as the river.
From the National Geographic, December 1996