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Points and meanders on a foggy morning

Standing on the beach at the Point.
Standing on the beach at the Point where the Manokin River meets Tangier Sound.

It should not surprise that so elemental a word as point has several geographic meanings.  Wherever land meets water, from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Point Pleasant, Florida, point describes the projection of dry ground into the surrounding sea, bay, lake, or river.  In Appalachia, point may refer to the termination of a mountain ridge projecting into a confluence of valleys.   Even on prairies, points abound…In river morphology, a point is the inside or convex curve of a meander, where sediment tends to aggrade.  The condition of vegetation on a stream’s meander point is a useful indicator of its ecological health: if vegetation is colonizing the point, the health trend is likely positive.  The state of the meander point is usually a better indicator of the stream’s overall condition than the presence or absence of erosion on the concave or outer curve of the channel.  Erosion and consequent bank collapse on the outside of the bend can be a natural feature of the stream’s morphological dynamic.

~ William DeBuys, Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney

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