Even though I’ve lived in the small Oregon town of Scappoose for more than two decades now, I still find myself disoriented. It’s the river. Flowing past the town, the Columbia flows south to north. In Astoria, where I was raised, it flowed – and still continues to flow – east to west. Rivers are like that; they have effects on a person.

They have effects on landscapes as well. These – as well as a number of other aspects of rivers about which most of us have at one time or another likely enquired – are the subject of the new book Where the River Flows; Scientific Reflections on Earth’s Waterways by Sean Fleming.

As a child of a great river, as well as being a naturalist, I am very much looking forward to discovering what Professor Fleming has written about the ways of rivers, to discover some of the answers to questions I first asked long, long ago in a town where the water flowed in the direction I still think it should.