Cities dream underwater

Castle In The Air Underwater

When I was about 14 years old, my aunt took me tubing down a river in northern Florida. At the beginning of the river you could look down, down into the spring the water came up from, a deep tunnel into the earth. I remember people scuba diving into the spring, but I don’t know now if they were really there at the time, or have been inserted by my imagination because I thought it would be so cool to dive down into that tunnel to explore. Tubing down the river seemed so unexciting in comparison, but I did almost get bitten by a rattlesnake that was on a branch over-hanging the river, so the trip turned out to be pretty exciting after all.

I was reminded of this when I read the recent BLDG|BLOG post on Scuba Diving Beneath Hagia Sophia. I’ve wanted to visit the Hagia Sophia since reading about in college, and now my imagination of the subterranean waters below it makes me want to visit even more.

Similarly, a post on Wired Science did not grab me so much for the poisonous, fanged crustacean that was discovered, but for the image (scroll down) of scuba diving in a submarine lava tube. Wow.

Back to BLDG|BLOG, and the theme of the city, the idea of fishing in the lost creeks covered up by the city is intriguing. I live on False Creek, in a co-op built on what was once a swamp, but if I ever were to buy a house in Vancouver (dreaming here, obviously), I would be tempted to locate it over one of the cities lost creeks. Some of these have memorials to mark their passing, and there is an ongoing effort to bring back Still Creek, but most of the creeks are gone, into pipes and covered by layers of the city.

Since I don’t scuba dive, and am a very amateur spelunker, it may be strange that these images which are simultaneously underwater and underground should be so moving. Or perhaps not, since often what we find most beautiful in the world is not what we do and know and understand, but what remains mysterious.