In late summer, I would swim and stream-walk a small section of the Raccoon River. While sedimented for decades now, the water was clear in the shallows. For a few years now, the water is pea-green from edge-to-edge. For decades and worse now, this water has strongly contributed to a vast hypoxia zone in the Gulf.
In the 1980s, I wrote about the wisdom of the river, focusing on the Des Moines River as a living, very open metaphor for the essential streaming dynamic of the universe that is within us as well in the streaming of our body metabolism and thought.
Friday, September 16, 2016
A Praise Of Water
Lance Kinseth, January 26, 2014, photo
QUALITY WATER IN IOWA will require an appreciation of water rather than only a technical solution. If water tastes bad or we imagine it to have something scary-toxic in it like lead, we will likely bring a little more activism to making a change. But even then, something else will rise to the top as a priority of the moment and then something else, and then something else ad infinitum.
Do we appreciate water, especially with regard to how miraculous and inseparably precious, and even how rare, it is?
IN A VERY REAL WAY, as we begin to understand it, a praise of water outspreads to is a praise of Earth and Sun and more. Seemingly so ordinary and simple, water is eloquent and miraculous--especially on the surface of the Earth. The sun provides energy and Earth exists in that “just-right” distance from the sun--the Goldilocks Zone--that allows for an atmosphere, the right gases, and the survival and development of macromolecules.
From space, Earth appears to be the “water planet,” so that water seems over-abundant. But examine the U.S Geologic Survey imagery to the right of this post. And note how thin a coat it is on the surface of the Earth. A guesstimate: 350 million cubic miles of water, with 324 million cubic miles in “oceans.” 1.5 million cubic miles in ground water and 3 million in ice [but not now] due to global warming. Just 55,000 cubic miles in lakes and rivers.
We imagine that we know what water is, and what it is is plain, ordinary, neutral, not dynamic.
Water is magical stuff. It can come out of a volcano. Strike a match and water pops out fire, out of thin air. Water seems so “juicy” and liquid, but water is atomic, molecular. It is billions-years-old well-travelled electronic silicon ash having been in many life forms and events before sliding down our throats.
And unless highly filtered, water is not pure H2O. The 104 degree angle between hydrogen atoms attached to the oxygen atom keeps H2O slightly off-balance electrically. This makes water “sticky” or “everyday” “wet” rather than neutral. This off-balance makes life possible. In terms of complexity, it makes water is full of both an attractor of damn-near everything, and the mixer that makes possible exotic chemical teas (many of which are being made in our bodies in the brain and in digestion that occur with a complexity beyond us while we walk about unknowingly and completely dependent upon these chemistries to exist).
Being just the “right distance from the sun” retains an atmosphere and allow much water to be present in a liquid state. Water is life providing both the original tea for macromolecules evolving into life and the ongoing life of all Earth flora and fauna. Water is everywhere, in oceans and lakes and streams, in atmosphere and massed in ice, underground, and in all flora and fauna. But it is more than a physical resource “out there.”
We are predominantly water: 60+ percent body weight with the brain being perhaps 80+ percent water. And there are perhaps 280 trillion gallons of water in the biomass of the Earth. Biologic life that is comprised far more of water than Earth. Water is perhaps 1/4000th of the weight of the Earth. Human life is perhaps 60+ percent water, with the brain being perhaps 80+ percent water.
Water is obvious hydraulics in the body, but it is also thinking. Looking like a fluid, water is electronic. That is why the brain is predominantly water. Biology and electronics are not mutually exclusive.
Water seems secondary, but when human life is more conscious, health requires prioritizing landscape as self-interest rather than as terrains and processes apart from the most immediate self-interest.
When a drought is longstanding, our wisdom kicks in a little, and that which is most valued shifts, perhaps making the first rain a blessed appearance.