Cycling elevates your awareness of terrain.
Why do I invest so much time into surveying creeks and rivers, and then posting about it on the blog here? Pretty pictures? I’m teaching what I know of God’s Creation. I want you to learn how to think in terms of your environment, not as a green weenie devoted to some mythical Mother Earth, but as someone who knows in your heart that God gave us certain things to use for His glory. Sister Christine will teach you a lot about flora and fauna, among other things, and I will teach you terrain awareness. When possible, I’ll also teach about climate and weather, because it’s a part of geography.
All of these things are part of our proper awareness of God’s provision. Without that awareness, I don’t see how you can walk heart-led in this world. Without that, I cannot see how you can seize fully the redemption our Father offered in His revelation, because a core element of that revelation is how to manifest His glory as we walk about in this world He created.
So I encourage you to start thinking about where you live by chattering about where I live. It’s a demonstration of what I believe represents a proper consideration. If not you personally, then someone in your life needs to consider these things so that you get the full range of what Our Father has given us. He grants each of us gifts of varying kinds of awareness so that we can come together in spiritual communion to hammer out a moral path of conduct that makes Him smile.
For example, perhaps a few of my readers are aware that just about 15 miles south of my residence is one of the prime target areas of tornadoes. It’s the City of Moore, Oklahoma. Of all the places in our state, this one area catches the biggest and baddest storms and it happens consistently. No other part of our state sees such frequent and total rebuilding of destroyed structures. Something about the terrain there invites tornadoes to form and grow in strength. And while the reasons are more complex than meteorologists can currently understand, I can tell you part of the reason: The land there is very flat for quite some miles around while also having a high relative elevation.
I suppose some of you might know a little about using the online mapping services. What you might not know is that most of them offer some kind of alternative perspective that indicates relative elevation. It’s what we call topography. While the controls offered by the various mapping services vary, somewhere in the interface is an option to view elevation markers, usually brown lines overlaid on the map to indicate a certain particular elevation above sea level. By following that elevation around the terrain, you get a feel for where the hills and valleys are.
If you viewed the elevation markers around Moore and other topographical features, you’d see that a great many streams and creeks originate there. It’s called a “watershed” — one of the definitions of that word is the highpoint elevation between two water features, the point where rainfall runoff divides between them. Three of the creeks I’ve chased start within a two mile area near Moore, all close together, because that area is the watershed between to very large river courses: the Canadian and the North Canadian. Those two run kind of parallel for hundreds of miles, but they wander all over the place in this central part of the state. Rivers wander in loops where the terrain is flat, where the change in elevation is spread out over long distances. We have hills around here, but they aren’t that high. Moore sits on top of a very wide high watershed between two of the biggest rivers in this state.
Our state slops from NW to SE, with mountainous areas in the NW, SW, south central and all along the eastern end. Prevailing winds are west-east. That means that while we get some awful storms in the west, they have to fight surface impediments until they drop down into the central plains. Storms are up high, but tornadoes are on the surface. They can still form in rough terrain, but in terms of predictable consistency, they form better in the plains. Moore is a primary target zone for tornadoes.
Why do people keep rebuilding there? That’s a study in history, economics and sociology. In a wiser world, that area would be reserved for cattle and horses. Instead, it’s a dense suburban area with an awful lot of upper middle class homes. It’s also one of the best shopping areas, with a high density of all the most popular franchises in one small space, well-planned by the marketing folks. It’s a prosperous area of the state, close to the Big City (OKC) but far enough away to be insulated from the worst effects of urban density. All of this and it’s on land far better suited to agriculture. It’s a place God Himself marked for storms, but people do what they do. The massive tornadoes don’t come every year, but seem to average about every five years or so.
You could say that, on one level, it’s just the basic fallen instincts of humanity. But there are people there who need to hear the truth. So if you felt called to live among them and share your message, you’d have to go in faith and trust the Lord. But that trust includes a certain level of awareness about the likelihood of destructive tornadoes every few years and being ready to face the consequences of that choice.
When I ride out towards Moore, I can’t help but notice that long, slow climb up to the peak of the watershed. Lots of water courses are sourced out there. I often stop and taste the wind that always blows; Oklahoma has precious few moments when the air is relatively still. There are a few square miles of open range between I-240 and the northern edge of Moore city limits, but Moore itself clearly shouldn’t be there. So I stop and pray that God allow us to spread the truth of His word: If you don’t shift your sense of self into your heart, you cannot truly know God’s will for your life. You might be driven to certain choices that won’t let you rest, but you won’t have the foundation for making that a norm in your awareness.
Maybe you understand that it’s really not a question of the loss of property and life. We are in this world, not of it. We belong in Heaven. However, we are here for a time to bring Him glory. That includes birth in a fallen world that is both full of sin and full of glorious sweet provision. It’s the paradox of Creation and Fall. The answer is redemption through God’s revelation of His divine character. It’s in written Scripture, but it’s true meaning is your own heart committed to finding His truth in Creation itself. All of human knowledge is potentially useful, but it must be guided by the moral priorities of a heart set on His glory.
We can’t all become experts in hydrology, climate and other specialties under the heading of geography, but we can learn more about what Our Creator has done.