Water


Yesterday we finally got rain. Oh boy did we get rain. It poured all day — so much that I needed to sweep the excess water off the patio (four times), much to the great disappointment of the ducks; drag all the hemlock needles out of the second floor gutter drains (thankfully, just once); pull the leaf dams out of the sewer drains out on the road (twice); place seven wastebaskets in various places under the leaky school roof; spend almost five hours today dispatching a third of the pear tree that fell during the storm; and generally enjoy the soothing sound of a steady, pounding rain.

I couldn’t have been happier.

By late afternoon I was playing in the rushing water along the curb. We have a sweeping curve in our driveway; rainwater flows toward the forest on one end and toward the road on the other. I was fooling around with the broom, sweeping water along so that when it reached the lip of the driveway where it spills into a little rivulet in the woods it would make a great splash.

Earlier, when I was pulling leaf piles out of the road grates, I was treated to the satisfying rush of a hundred-foot-long run of water released into the underground “box” the city installed years ago. What a sound! There was so much water and so much power in it that I was darned careful about where I was standing. Oh, there was no danger of being dragged into that box of roiling water, of course, but I sure could have been knocked off my feet, and I’m just a little too old to think that would be fun.

Water is amazing. In a hurricane it can bring incomprehensible devastation. In a pouring rain, it provides gentle, soothing sound. On a winter pond it is ground for skaters, a slide for otters, and protection for fish and other semi-hibernaters. In an iceberg it becomes glorious shards of blue light, crashes into the sea in the impressive act of calving, or takes out a gigantic sea-going vessel like the Titanic. Rocks are carved, smoothed, even worn completely away by the patient passing of the smallest steady trickle. Yet water will give way to a clump of newly fallen maple leaves, finding itself a different course around the blockage.

I’ve always loved water, even when it appears as an impressive gusher in the basement during a heavy storm. You just have to love something so versatile, unique, and mysterious. Everything else has the decency to follow the rules: shrink when you get cold, expand when you get hot. But not water. And thank God for that, because if it followed the rules we wouldn’t be here. And precious little else would be, for that matter.

Once again Earth teaches me. Be like water. If it is beneficial to live by a different set of rules, give it a go. Know when to hang in there long enough to wear down something as unyielding as rock, and when to step aside for a tender possibility like a clump of leaves. Once in a while sweep someone off their feet, even if they think they are too old to enjoy it. Be flexible. Be playful. Be useful. Be beautiful. Sing a haunting, soothing song.

And once in a while, be ferocious. It will keep others respectful, compassionate and resourceful.

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