A river of water of life! How full of meaning that is to a traveler in the East! There you have sharp contrasts—arid deserts, bare hillsides, yellow mountains; but where the river flows, there is shade, coolness, greenness, fruits and flowers. Even the very sound of flowing water falls with pleasant music on the ear. Egypt is the "gift of the Nile," a garden bounded by a desert. Damascus is an oasis in the desert created by the Abana (now Barada) and Pharpar rivers flowing from the snows of Hermon. There the desert gives way to orchards and groves, laden with fruits and exhaling sweet odors.
Along the way to Antioch bare mountains yield to pleasant groves, where the waters of Daphne tumble over the rocks and where the great wheels lift the waters of the full-flowing Orontes into the gardens. But perhaps it is at Tarsus that one best understands how the river is the giver of life. To the north are the bare, rugged Taurus Mountains. Here in front of you lies the mean, dry, dusty, yellow, windswept town. But to the south, toward the sea, where the waters of the Cydnus are taken up by the great water wheels, you behold a very paradise of deepest green, where trees bend in the wind and gardens fill the air with sweet incense.