56. Limnology, noun. From Greek limne, “lake; pool of standing water” + legein, “to speak”—not related to liminal, though the echo is pleasing. The study of bodies of fresh water. First used in 1892 by Swiss researcher François-Alphonse Forel to name what he described as “the oceanography of lakes.”
Though the field has evolved since his founding of it to encompass investigations of marshes, swamps, rivers, streams and ponds—not just lakes—it was Forel who first drew out the borders of what had been before him a wholly unborn scientific discipline. He did so with the publication of a three-volume monograph on the biology, geology, and chemistry of his beloved Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). Forel devoted his entire professional life to studying its waters. “For us, its people,” wrote Forel, “Lake Geneva is the king of lakes; we love it with enthusiasm, with passion.”
I grew up by the sea, and always knew the salt spray on my face was flung by boundless majesty. It’s taken thirty years to find the tonic in these inland waters.
Their banks intrigue. I can see a way to inhabit them.