What’s Up is Down
While it makes sense that to go up a river or a lake that is fed by a stream or river, intuitively when you live in the Northeast you think of going up the river as going north or west. That’s because the majority of rivers that flow to the sea do so in a southbound or eastbound way. To go “up the river” to SingSing was to go up the Hudson River from New York City to Ossining, New York. But there are several examples in the region where the opposite happens.
Watershed maps indicate several rivers that flow north to the St Lawrence River. These include the Chaudière River (Rivière Chaudière) and the Richelieu River, which is fed from Lake Champlain and Lake George through a series of smaller rivers. Because these two lakes flow north to the St Lawrence, going “up the lake” means going south, and going “down the lake” north. This upside down world of navigation makes perfect sense when you think about water flowing down, but is topsy-turvy when you think about north-south.
It’s a good reminder that your way of thinking, based on your experiences, isn’t necessarily correct. Next time I think I’ve got something all figured out I’ll reflect on nature’s reminder that what’s up can indeed be down. That’s a good reminder for all of us.