• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Language of Landscape

Air Date: Week of

Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney. (Courtesy of Trinity University Press)

Living on Earth revisits its first installment of the series "Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape," based on the book of the same title edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney. In this first installment, Oregon writer John Daniel muses on the word “cascade.”


CURWOOD: Forty-five American writers are helping us get to know this place we call home a little bit better in a new book called “Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape.” It’s basically a dictionary of hundreds of unique and unusual features of the vast American countryside. We’ve invited some of the contributors to “Home Ground” to share definitions with us. And this week it’s Oregon writer John Daniel reading his definition of a signature feature of his part of the country: Cascade.

Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney. (Courtesy of Trinity University Press)

DANIEL: Cascade. Mountain streams like to descend in stair step series of short falls and brief pools. In these cascades water alternates between two energy states. Much like air shifting between super and subsonic flow. The white water of the falls is the fluvial equivalent of a sonic boom. Cascade is used more broadly to mean a rocky stretch of white water less steep than a waterfall but steeper than a rapid.

The cascades of the Columbia River formed several centuries ago when a massive slide filled a channel in the mid Columbia Gorge presented Louis and Clark’s core of discovery with a three miles stretch of chutes and falls boiling in a most horrible manner, according to William Clark’s journal.

Rafting or boating the gorge was the last leg of the Oregon Trail for many early immigrants. Some lost all they owned to the Cascades and some lost their lives. Now drowned in slack water behind Bonneville Dam this reach of river gave the Cascade Range its name.

CURWOOD: John Daniel lives and writes in the hills just outside of Eugene, Oregon. His definition of “Cascade” is in the book “Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape,” edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney.

[MUSIC: Don Williams “Till The Rivers All Run Dry” from ‘Don Williams: Anthology’ (UMG Recordings – 2000)]



Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape

John Daniel's website


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth