Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Naming and Re-Naming

by Michael Ceraolo

I am looking at a map of the watershed:
on one,
            the creek and its various tributaries
are complete and unobstructed,
                                                as they were
before man went to work and live by them,
are blue and thick like the veins of weightlifter;
on the other,
                   the creek and its tributaries
                                                             are thinner,
something easily explained by different graphics,
the second map also has a second difference:
it shows the hand of man
that are culverted are not shown on this map,
stream sections that seem to go nowhere,
look like varicose veins to boot
                                               It's unlikely,
as long as people live here,
                                         that all
the buried sections will ever be unburied
(though some will):
                                they go
                                                          municipal buildings,
                                                                                        shopping malls,
Even without being completely free-flowing
some of the streams are claiming,
                                                   or re-claiming,
                                                                         their names
(The watershed itself has begun announcing its presence:
signs have started appearing on the watershed's edges
informing people they are now entering the watershed;
some signs are a bit inside the boundary,
this is a case of something being better than nothing)

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names:
"the Board promulgates official geographic feature names
with locative attributes"
"Any person or organization,
                                          public or private,
                                                                   may . . .
request the Board to render formal decisions on proposed names"

in October 2007 the city of Richmond Heights
(briefly called Claribel Village when it was culled
from Euclid township nearly a century ago,
the town fathers decided the name
                                                     :is effeminate
and is not appropriate or suitable for a municipal corporation")
sought to re-claim,
                                           the original names
given to five tributaries or branches,
names that had fallen into disuse
on March 13, 2008,
                              the Board approved the five names
(did the other two tributaries never have names to be re-claimed?)
Those five were:

                             East Branch,
12,000 feet of the creek contained in the city limits,
a name already informally in use;
obeying the geographic imperative;

                                                       Redstone Run,
"storm drainage from Richmond Town Square Mall"
"flows through a culvert under Richmond Road"
"into an open stream flowing northwest"
"into twin 58" x 60" culverts"
eventually into Euclid Creek
(length about 14,000 feet),
for the Berea sandstone of the Devonian,
also known as red sandstone,
frequently shortened to redstone;

                                                  Stevenson Brook,
"flows from a retention pond"
"and from storm sewers north of the Mall"
flows along one of the newer developments
"into a 91" x 58" oval culvert running north"
and eventually empties into the East Branch
(a length of 10,000 feet),
for the Stevenson family who came here,
from various places,
                              in 1837;

                                              Verbsky Creek,
"begins in farm ditches"
"flows westerly through a 42" culvert"
"then northerly through a scenic ravine"
"and through a 72" culvert under Highland Road"
                                                                       and then
meets up with the East Branch and flows into
Euclid Creek
(a total length of 6,000 feet),
for the Verbsky family who came here from Bohemia
in 1861,
             and operated a sawmill
and had vineyards on the west end of the city;

Claribel Creek,
"comes from a small retention pond"
"that collects a series of drainage ditches and storm sewers"
from the city of Highland Heights to the east
"flows north through a box culvert under Highland Road"
"then flows westerly in an open ditch"
flows past several City buildings,
           and then exits,
                                  a heavily-silted Mayfair Lake,
eventually empties into the East Branch
(length about 10,000 feet),
for the daughter of one of the first postmasters of the city
             unlike cities,
                                                    can be effeminate)

There are other tributaries in other cities
that have no formal names,
some may have informal names
                                                (I seem
to remember reading of a study of water quality
in a tributary called Meadowood Creek)
Some are marked as
Tributary to the West Branch
or Tributary to the East Branch;
others haven't even merited such generic designations
(naming a tributary Tributary
is like titling a poem Poem),
have culverted sections and flow through
similar landscapes as the named creek above
                                                                     Let's first
find names for all those unnamed branches,
let's put signage
                         (in the correct places)
                                                          broadcasting the names,
and then,
               wherever possible,
                                           let's work
toward restoring the streams to free-flowing form-------

1 comment:

  1. What humans have done to Nature breaks my heart. I guess restoring the names of the tributaries of Euclid Creek is a step in the right direction (except for the Tributaries tributaries), but it is a baby step. I very much appreciate these history poems that illuminate as well as stir up longings for cures for the environmental damage perpetuated in the name of progress.