Depending on the region of the country, a drain may be variously a ditch dug for draining off water; a tributary more diminutive than a creek; a little spring in a small hollow; a gully or ravine; an ebb tide; or a channel in a saltwater marsh. In many places, including South Carolina and Maine, the word is pronounced, and often spelled, dreen. During the Prohibition era in America, Appalachian moonshiners liked to situate their whisky stills on what they called dreens—springs located very far up on particularly steep slopes, thus obscured from all but the most ardent revenuer. Even today, in Maine, lobstermen and clam diggers may refer to especially low tides as dreen tides, and a Maine tide may be said to “dreen out.” In Beautiful Swimmers, author William Warner indicates how drain is used in the vernacular of the Chesapeake Bay watermen: “Down every tidal gut and through every big ‘thoroughfare’ and little ‘swash’ or ‘drain,’ as the breaks in the marsh are called, there comes an enormous and nourishing flow of silage.”

Emily Hiestand