I became interested in rivers when the smoking ban drove me out of my local pub (above) in Devon, and I began to sit in the sun by the little river that flowed past its garden, gazing for hours at the water sliding slowly by. Once I drove to see the lakes at its headwaters, miles up the valley. On another occasion, I visited the rivermouth where it spilled out over a beach into the ocean.

It was just a little meandering river, and I would occasionally wonder why rivers meandered, instead of going straight. A few days ago I had the thought that maybe it was that while rivers are flowing along their paths, they’re also slowly oscillating from side to side. They were pendulums, swinging slowly from side to side, with the weight of their water sliding up one side of the concave river plane, and then back down and up the other side.

meanderPerhaps, I wondered, straight-flowing rivers began to meander when the valley down which they were flowing changed direction, causing them to overshoot the path on one side, and then the other, creating a series of meanders, which would last until the underlying valley changed direction again.

miletusThe river Meander is the origin of the word meander. I wondered where that river was, and soon discovered that it had flowed down from central Turkey to the city of Miletus (marked on the map at left) on the coast of the Aegean sea.  In the middle of the 6th century BC, Miletus was considered the greatest and wealthiest of Greek cities.

At the same time, I chanced upon an account by someone who had canoed down the entire length of the Meander, until – nearly completely exhausted – he had almost reached the ruins of ancient Miletus:

On my approach to the coast, where the Meander delta meets the Aegean between the resort towns of Didim and Kusadası, I had begun to doubt that I could stay the course. A well-earned break was called for, which explains the short portage I was now making towards Bafa lake, a protected natural park, and to the haven of Kapıkırı, on its eastern edge.

Kapikiri was once the Greek town of Heraclea, and its current residents live among the ruins of the town.

…the casual ways in which ancient Heraclea’s stones have been customised by present-day Kapıkırı – as garden tables and as tether posts for donkeys. Or even as a boot jack: I watched an arthritic elderly man ease off a worn leather heel against a column drum at his front door, finding a functional use for the stone’s fluted corner which its ancient carver probably never anticipated.

The terrain around Kapikiri-Heraclea was quite stunning.


And littered with ruins:


The recovering canoeist stayed at the Agora Pansiyon, whose interior seemed delightfully whimsical:

agora-pansiyon-kapikiriLook closely. There are ashtrays on the tables!

On my final morning Ozgun, Orhan’s wife, served an epic home-produced breakfast of bread, yoghurt, eggs and a bewildering variety of jams. Heavily ballasted, I returned to the river and continued downstream to another historic highlight – the ancient port of Miletus.

After which the explorer wrote a book: Meander; East to West Along a Turkish River, by Jeremy Seal .  It’s a book that I’d rather like to read. I also found another article by him.

In this manner did I meander down the Meander, and find Lake Bafa, and the town of Kapikiri, and a little restaurant with ashtrays on the tables.


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25 Responses to Meander

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Damn Frank your page is awesome on a big screen computer……………..hehehehheh! Just got it up and running.

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    Now I gotta learn me self how to use this damn thing…………………..

    • beobrigitte says:

      Harley, for a laugh I rigged up my pc to the 50 inch TV – it most certainly lives up to what it promised!!!

      Frank, the Devon river picture is AWESOME!!!!

      (Will go back to my 19 inch flat screen tomorrow, though. My living room looks kind of messy….)

  3. Tom says:

    That first photo, of the stark rock outcroppings with greenery interspersed amongst the cracks is slightly what parts of the Sierras nearing the tops look like between California and Nevada, only it’s more granite and less eroded, more jagged and less rounded, but similar.

    For the photo with the ashtrays, I wonder if that is still that way or the photo might be of older vintage, but it may still be that way, if they’ve not gone smoke-ban crazy like some idiotic parts of the world.

    I was watching Downton Abbey on TV the last several weekends and noticed, for a period piece set in UK in the WWI through 1920’s era so far, they do not show very much smoking. They do, a little, but only a few cigars here and there and as little smoke as possible. Even speak easy scenes in London during the 20’s is void of much smoky atmosphere, which seems unrealistic.

    I was thinking, the new ruling class of thespians and playwrights taking over, the younger ones coming of age, in charge of BBC must be re-writing history (again) to make it seem like smoking was incidental, if at all, in prior ages, when of course it was very prevalent and their obvious underplaying it shows purposeful intent on the young Victorians coming of age.

    They also had a bit where some homosexuality was revealed and unlike how it would have been, in that prior age, they go on to sanctify it using modern liberal terms that are also obvious they are busy re-writing history to make their upper classes from generations back seem more like the ruling classes of today, so nobody would dare see a play on older times yet disbelieve that the anti-smoking ruling class of nowadays isn’t somehow legitimate, based on a false presentation of what it was like in the past, as if it “was always that way”.

    Their failure to show more smoking though, as normal back then, which it was, wasn’t as disgusting as when EastEnders decided to have Dot Cotton imbibe in an “illegal smoking den” in the back of the Queen Vic, then be caught and severely punished, “for her crime”.

    But still, they are rewriting recent history again, not an ashtray showing on the set of Downton Abbey much either, at least I’ve not noticed many yet.

    • Tom says:

      And, believe me, I look. I do. When I look at photographs, I am also looking to notice too if there are no-smoking signs or ashtrays, the more prevalent feature, in anything I see, in print, on TV, in film. To me, it matters as it goes to the mindset and prejudice, or not, of the producer, writers and staff, or if of a resort, whether one should even bother making a reservation, which if they’re non-smoking, everywhere, including outdoors, then why bother wasting money on such a hateful and non-diverse hotel, casino or vacation spot.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I caught the second half of Casablanca this afternoon, dozing in front of the TV at my brother’s after lunch. Not only was there smoke everywhere, but there were clearly people (or smoke machines?) blowing smoke in front of the camera.

      I would imagine that, in the depths of Turkey, their recent smoking ban is widely ignored. I think Nisakiman said as much not long ago.

  4. beobrigitte says:

    It was just a little meandering river, and I would occasionally wonder why rivers meandered, instead of going straight. A few days ago I had the thought that maybe it was that while rivers are flowing along their paths, they’re also slowly oscillating from side to side. They were pendulums, swinging slowly from side to side, with the weight of their water sliding up one side of the concave river plane, and then back down and up the other side.

    Meandering rivers are just like meandering thoughts; they start off following one route, then something changes their direction. In cases of rivers it more due to soil giving way for the river to flow, in cases of thought it is questions arising, requiring answers before the thought can proceed, so little thought-whirlpools begin, carving a new way into the unknown. Nevertheless, both river and thought do not lose their origin.

    This place most certainly looks inviting!!!!

    Ashtrays on the table make a place feel homely and warm!!!!

    So I will be found in Austria in January. Apparently the Austrians have just declined the smoking ban. Pity I can’t find the article on that right now….

    • Some other Tom says:

      I was in Austria in early October of 2012. I was happy to find I could smoke in the bar in the hotel I was staying… It was a lovely evening, filled with wonderful conversations with the locals. I speak very little German, and they spoke very little English, but we all smoked and drank into the wee hours of the morning and never seemed at a loss for reasons to buy another round and toast one another…

  5. pogo says:

    frank I know where you are talking about with the river Otter.I am on the north coast of Devon ,which can only be described in all honesty as Gods own countrty.Our little meanders her consist of the River Cean and a small but important (to locals) stream if you will! the knowle water.Both of these I have at various times traversed,somewhat and have seen caves ,oxbows and natural dams,I think a river runs it,s course because of necessity the water being the more powerful of the elements involved.I do enjoy your post.s and like the water liberty will always prevail in the end.

    • Frank Davis says:

      One of the things that I love about rivers is that they are created from the bottom up by rainfall onto the geographic terrain. They aren’t top-down planned in the way that canals are. Rivers have no plans. And yet they’re remarkably stable, even if they wander around a bit. Miletus is a ruin, but the Meander still wanders past it.

      And I think that’s the way the universe works. It’s all bottom-up, rather than top-down.

      And yes, liberty is like water.

      • Some other Tom says:

        Very true… I am always amazed at things like that as well… You see it in nature everywhere, paths of least resistance, funicular forms, catenary curves… Things have a natural path they want to follow, a form they want to take… Liberty is the ability to have that same courtesy in a society as nature always seems to get. Not only that – I think the longer something is dammed up and shaped into something it isn’t, eventually something catastrophic eventually wins and after the eruption, the natural course continues in the path it always wanted to take…

  6. smokervoter says:

    A quickie reflection on the modern Death Cult (kudos to Dirk’s excellent Christmas Day comment) and my recent self-imposed holiday from all things digital. One thing about plopping a cassette into your tape deck and pushing the PLAY button is that unlike our exacting, absolutely perfect computerized music players, you often never know what song is going to come blaring out of the speakers. The paper labels had a way of becoming unglued.

    Anyway, one day I put in a grab bag unlabeled tape, pushed PLAY and out came Cyndi Lauper singing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. The year was 1984 if I recall correctly. Have you ever heard and seen a more upbeat, fun-for-the-sake-of-having-fun, song and video than that? And how’s about “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & the Waves round about that same time!

    At that point in time we had a decade left on the E-ticket joy ride before Hillary Clinton would move into the White House and declare it off limits to anyone who wanted to smoke. In the background, Everett Koop (May 1984) was speaking at a conference of glum medical establishment puritans, dreaming of a smokefree world by the year 2000, but no one else was listening to him. He was a cranky old crackpot doctor with a weird beard. Frank Zappa called him Dr. God. I call him Big Brother (May 1984).

    Look where we’re at now. We’ve got a non-stop, ever-repeating, monotonous message of stone cold sobriety and ascetic bliss from those glum medical establishment puritans all in the name of advancing, at a molasses-in-January pace, the human lifespan by an additional (on average) week or two over last years index.

    I’ll take “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Katrina and her Waves over the morbid Death Cult (life culture turned upside down actually) any day of the week.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Look where we’re at now. We’ve got a non-stop, ever-repeating, monotonous message of stone cold sobriety and ascetic bliss from those glum medical establishment puritans all in the name of advancing, at a molasses-in-January pace, the human lifespan by an additional (on average) week or two over last years index.

      The medical establishment puritans might want to be careful with what they wish for. It might come true!!

      I seriously doubt they will live longer. To them it will just feel this way. And by then it’ll too late for them to add a little life to their years.

      • smokervoter says:

        When I’m punching the old trusty Microsoft keyboard like a Leslie organ, massaging out a comment and preparing to click that ominous Post Comment button, certain words just pop into my head out of nowhere it seems.

        Dirk’s Death Culture comment on Christmas and Cyndi Lauper don’t really have much of a connection but they nonetheless triggered my use of the term ‘ascetic bliss’ in trying to make my point. I have no idea where that came from but it worked.

        So I put ‘ascetic’ into the the search box at the top of this blog and, bingo, an onslaught of great writing and posts from Tolstoy to Epicurus to basically what I was trying to get across with my typical rambling disjointed commentary were laid out in front of me.

        My personal favorite was False Alarm Posted on July 27, 2011. It fits in with a comment I’ve been meaning to massage out of the keyboards regarding Alex Jones and an antismoking tirade he went on the other night, but that will have to wait until the right words pop into my head out of nowhere.

        Here is what you’ll find if you put ‘ascetic’ into Frank’s search box. I highly recommend it.

        And as an experiment I’ll shortcut the process for you all. Click on this link and you’ll have some great reads ahead of you, I guarantee it.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Im to busy trying to get this Jack and Coke to mix with the ice……………I simply cant undrstnd why ice has to melt………………………My experimentation make take most of the bottle but I know I shall find an answer yet………….Now for some more fine Kentucky Burley tobacco…………damn that ice ciube just floated to the top again and I see the titanic coming on fast!!!!!!

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Poor kids I just tossed a baby out of the lifeboat…………..oh well the new widow next to me needs comforting……… was her baby!

  7. Malcolm Coghill says:

    In a period Before Alcohol I think I remember learning that a meandering river is a product of the twistiness of the angle of the slope on the hypotenuse,
    Girls Just Want To Have Fun ? Fun will be illegal under a UN Directive soon to be ratified in Brussels and made UK law by our (un)Civil Service (motto ; we do what UN/EU tells us, as our bonus depends on making new laws at the rate of 12 per fiscal/metric day)

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    Did anyone else get this in email

    optimiadevelopments commented on Bulgarian President Threatens Veto.

    in response to Frank Davis:

    A couple of days back I reported that there were moves afoot in Bulgaria to relax the smoking ban that came into force there in 2012. Now (H/T Dick Puddlecote), amazingly, the Bulgarian president has said that he’ll veto any relaxation. Bulgarian President will veto the lifting of full smoking ban to preserve the health of […]

    Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post. The whole blog is very nice found some good stuff and good information here Thanks..Also visit my page pharmaceuticals jobs .

    • Tom says:

      I got the email, saw it too. Maybe the Bulgarian government got the same notice the former Polish government – president, cabinet members, staff, etc. – once received, only ignored – and then “coincidentally” all died in a fiery plane crash. The Anti-Smoking-Industry is probably as much tied in with organized crime, grift and outright savagery for its own personal gains of power, control and wealth as any time in history when a group went around threatening whoever they could into compliance – and that may be a key reason why someone “got to” the Bulgarian president now, reminded him of that little airline “accident” a few years back and then he quickly changed his mind 180-degrees and came around to the Anti-Smoking-Industry’s “logic”, in a deal that was “just too good to pass up” – either that or else he got a large enough sum of money to keep his mouth shut and not make any waves. But that’s how I would see it, that “something” was said/happened, behind closed doors – carrot or else stick – to make him change his mind, pronto.

  9. Pingback: Losing The Magic | Frank Davis

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