The fall issue of The Meander, a literary magazine published by students of Rio Del Sol, drops this week. Read the introduction to our debut issue below.
When I was hired to come to Rio, I was given a challenge, a mission, posed by Dr. Puglisi as a question: How are we going to help the river find its way in the next hundred years? I’d left the Midwest where I lived most all my life a literal stone’s throw from the Mississippi River. To my mind, rivers are big shouldered, carrying barges of grain or crude. Standing on the berm along the Santa Clara River for the first time, I thought, where is the water? This is a very different river, and I have much to learn.
Rivers elbow and oxbow their way through landscape and through our imaginations. They have their sources in the land itself, an identity shaped by geography, climate, and culture. They meander. “Meandering,” writes Ted Leeson, “is the curve of curiosity and exploration and sometimes of discovery – digressive and indirect.” The answer to Dr. P’s question lies in following the literal and figurative bends and eddies of our respective rivers.
The literal threats to our waterways are well documented, worrying. The Colorado, for example, dammed and tapped for agriculture, runs dry before reaching the Gulf of California. Our own Santa Clara, veined with pesticide, trickles to the ocean. Iconic steelhead cannot reach headwaters in order to fan spawning redds into gravel.
Figuratively, we too, emerging from a pandemic, have lost our way. Schools struggle. Economies struggle. Impenetrable dams stack up dividing people. The aesthetic of the meander, a curve painter William Hogarth deemed “the most aesthetically perfect of all shapes” (qtd in Leeson), has been forgotten, channelized, sanitized, anesthetized.
This magazine – the stories, poems and artwork, you’ll find here – is our best effort to dynamite some dams. Story, that is how we will help the river find its way. Follow the currents and eddies of our efforts here. Explore and discover with us. Let us know what you notice. It is our hope to reestablish some connection with this work – connections with each other, connections with place.