The Life Cycle of Water

It’s been a long time since I thought of Dutch puck disease, but I read a news article this morning that jogged my memory, so I’ll tell you about it.

Dutch Puck Disease: From Beetle to Humbug

Back in the early 70s most Canadians had heard of the invasion of an elm bark beetle and the fungal infection, Dutch Elm disease, that was devastating our elm population. Cities were doing what they could to protect their beautiful shade trees, sadly, without much success.

Around 1972 some wit at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation got the idea to do a send-up on the story and the idea went over. So they made a mini documentary about the dreaded “Dutch puck disease” destroying Canada’s hockey-puck producing trees.

A narrator warned that this posed a dire threat to Canada’s favorite sport. Cameras showed scenes of devastation: shriveled and deformed hockey pucks hanging from the branches of wasted-looking trees. They even persuaded hockey great, Bobby Orr, to give an interview about the scourge. He almost managed a straight face as he said, “This is terrible! I can’t score goals if there are no pucks.”

They filmed a few man-on-the-street interviews, including one of an incredulous young lady exclaiming, “They do?! Hockey pucks grow on trees?”

From Spring to Bottle:
Big companies process for profit.

Apparently conservationists are trying to stop the Swiss company, Nestlé, from draining some California streams to bottle water. Protesters claim the giant Swiss corporation is actually drying up creeks by taking so much water out and making huge profits selling it back as bottled water.

There’s likely reason for concern, but one needs to exercise care to get the whole picture, not just the attention-grabbing headline. A person could make the same case against farmers irrigating crops. All summer long, “big corporate farms” draw water from the underground supply, pay next-to-nothing for it, irrigate their crops, sell their produce “pre-packaged” to consumers in the form of veggies, and pocket the profits. All the while, you could argue, depleting the nation’s underground water supply. Nestlé is accused of taking water from the streams, paying nothing for it, bottling and selling it as “safe pure water,” and pocketing the profits. The question is being asked: “Is this a crime, or is it business?”

As with Dutch Puck Disease, headlines, news stories, and especially documentaries can be manipulated to sound sensationally dire and point fingers. And people can be gullible: “If it’s on the news it must be true.” However, readers need to examine the facts carefully and ponder the validity of statements like the following:
“At its current pace, the world will run out of freshwater before oil,” Brabeck said. Apparently Brabeck is suggesting “privatization” as a possible answer.

Private companies — or the government? What blessings or woes would privatization bring? Communism was supposed to be wonderful, too.

People here in North America are very concerned about the environment and it’s so easy to raise a scare story. But let’s consider the logistics behind our water supply (the sky) and the possibility of drying up springs, streams and rivers.

We can’t squeeze more prehistoric animals to produce more oil, but water’s a different kettle of fish. I’m thinking the world will “run out” of fresh water when the clouds stop dumping it on us.

You can syphon off water at its source so the folks downstream get almost none. You can dam a flowing water source and even change its course so one area gets a stream and another area gets none. But mankind has not yet been able to dry up the clouds.

From Gush to Flush: The Life Cycle of Water

Every day the sun draws zillions of tons of water vapor from the ocean, lakes, rivers, etc. If we could shut off the sun we could prevent all this water vapor loss. But…

By some miraculous process, this vapor gathers into clouds that drift across the earth’s surface and, at a given signal, pour their contents wherever they happen to be. Drizzle, rain, hail, spit or snow it down on us. Topography, like mountain ranges, and a cooler land mass (as in hurricanes) influence where the clouds will empty out. However, in the past human attempts to redirect rainfall to dry areas (cloud seeding) have often met with grief.

A free gift from heaven, precipitation falls where it wills. It fills mountain streams, rivers, lakes, soaks into the land, replenishes underground springs. Water is absorbed by tree roots and drawn up into leaves that give off water vapor. Farmers draw from underground aquifers to irrigate their land. Cities draw water from said sources and people use it.

We water our gardens and lawns and the water is drawn up through plant roots and later evaporated by the wind. Thus it finds its way back into the cycle. As we hoe the garden or mow the lawn we sweat, and the breeze dries us off, whisking the moisture into the atmosphere to rejoin some cloud somewhere. Just think where all your sweat may travel.

People drink the water, replenish their cells, and urinate the excess. Our bodies are an amazing filtration system. Whether bottled water, tap water, or beverage, we drink it, filter it, and flush it. Really, we should should all do our part and drink lots so we can put more water back into the recycling system. 🙂

Conserve Water: Don’t Bathe

Just think. Every morning all across the continent people use zillions of tons of water to shower and bathe. My washing machine is chugging away as I write this. If we’d stop all this bathing and laundry we’d waste so much less water.

Thankfully, water is never used up. Household water runs down the drain, into the city’s waste disposal system, and — hopefully filtered — back into the rivers and reservoirs. Directly or indirectly it finds its way back into the ocean to begin another cycle of evaporation and precipitation.

We need to treat all natural systems with care, including our water sources, but conservationists shouldn’t resort to fear tactics. Big corporations may well be greedy; it kind-of goes with the territory. Bottling companies make a mega-buck profit selling their goods, and some may be diverting some streams, but they don’t actually destroy the water.

The company can’t keep taking water that isn’t there. If there’s no water in said streams, it’s more likely because there hasn’t been sufficient rainfall in that area to replenish them. At this time the folks in southern Quebec would gladly share theirs, but alas! We’ve not yet found a way to redirect clouds.

In my understanding, the system of evaporation and precipitation was in place when man arrived and will continue to replenish the springs, streams, lakes, and rivers until the end of time. We can dam it, redirect it, and pollute the “container,” but we can’t use it up.

Hockey pucks don’t grow on trees, either. The game goes on.

Mini-Showers of Blessing

robin larger
American robin

“Oh, for the showers we plead!”

When I looked out my dining room window first thing this morning, I saw a robin hopping around on the lawn, foraging, and immediately a song popped into my mind:
“There shall be Showers of blessing
Oh, that today they might fall!”

This was because Mr Robin was poking around in the circle left by the sprinkler yesterday. I could almost imagine him waiting and hoping for the shower to start falling again, as it did all afternoon yesterday from our little round sprinkler. The local birds were in raptures as they fluttered about on the edge of the circle. Our lawn is rather dry and patchy on the east side of our trailer, which meant a few little depressions between the tufts of grass were catching the excess. Small birds flopped into these and bathed to their hearts’ content.

Out here on our acreage our water comes from a well shared with several families, so we don’t water our lawn very generously. Our poor grass has to make it as best it can through the summer. And with the lack of rain these last two months, the sloughs around us have about dried up, so the birds are happy to come and enjoy the blessing of showers under our sprinkler. Robins, goldfinches, siskins, and yellow warblers are our most trusting bird visitors, but even the odd oriole was popping down from the nearby woods and spending some time in the cooling spray.

We have a forced-air, water-cooled radiator. In simple terms, our trailer is cooled on these hot days by circulating cold water through our furnace pipes. A fan blows this cool air into our trailer and our sprinkler is the outlet for the pumped-out water.

Walking across our yard I see small white flicks as tiny hoppers spring out of my way. Too bad the birds don’t eat them! We’re going to have a good crop, looks like. We’ve just come through a wet cycle, almost ten years cool, rainy springs, which decimated the grasshopper population — thanks be! But give us a few dry springs like this and they’ll be thick again.

Scott Bailey’s one-word prompt for today was Native and the Daily Addictions prompt word today was Abundant, so I’m covering both in this short description of my native land, the western plains or “short-grass prairie.” The soil right where we live, on the Canadian Soil Map, is classed as “dune sand”— sandy straight down. Water doesn’t lie long on our yards and fields; we never get gumbo or greasy mud after a rain. But the water table is quite high here, thanks be!

Our most common native tree is sage or silver buffalo berry — Shepherdia argentea; you see it in every pasture. And chokecherry bushes. Poplars and willows spring up anywhere where a ravine or large slough collects a summer supply of water. And of course the first settlers planted trees, especially during the years of drought. This land really blew once it was broken by the farmers’ ploughs!

I checked the thesaurus for synonyms of ABUNDANT, which were ample, bountiful, generous, liberal. Well, we have not had abundant rainfall. In fact we’ve had precious little this month.

Dark rain clouds blew up Sunday afternoon and we thought we might get something. But we only felt a few sprinkles and the clouds blew around us to the north. When we gathered at church Sunday evening we heard that folks north of us got 1 ½ to 2 inches. My next-door neighbour laughed and told the blessed recipient, “Well, we’ll know where to come in fall when we get hungry.” Last night there were storm clouds all across the western sky and a storm definitely rolling in. But, again, it rolled around us.

Interestingly enough, other synonyms are : enough, sufficient, adequate. (Which goes to show how elastic our English words are.) Nevertheless, I’d best not complain because the crops are green and growing, not heat-blasted and parched. Which means that though we haven’t had any outpouring, there’s still sufficient moisture for our needs — and water in our well for us and our bird friends.

Yellow warbler fc option
Yellow warbler

A Man Who Can

One summer my daughter and I found a nice “pick-your-own” strawberry patch and came home with half a dozen baskets of berries to put in the freezer. For some reason shasta daisies were blooming among the strawberry plants; when we loaded up our loot, my daughter picked a couple of these and tossed them in with our berries.

Once home we were soon occupied with stemming and preserving strawberries and the flowers were forgotten until the evening; by then they looked pretty limp. My first thought was to toss them out, but I decided to trim the ends, put them in water, and see if they would revive. An hour or so later I checked them and was pleased to see them looking “fresh as a daisy” again.

I thought of the song that says, “I can’t take a heart that’s broken, make it over again, but I know a Man Who can.”*

Do you sometimes feel as limp, neglected, and unwanted as a trampled flower? Here’s some great news: the Lord can restore people as well as flowers. And this isn’t just a temporary boost, where we droop and die again later. When we put ourselves into His hands, He promises to be a flowing well of water in our lives:

“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water (from Jacob’s well) shall thirst again:  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”  John 4:13-14

Not only singly, but in twos and threes as well—in fact, He gives special attention to family groups. Relations between husband and wife, parents and children, former friends, in-laws, all can be revived and rebuilt by a better plan. “I know a Man Who can!”

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. — Matthew 19:26

(*Song written by Jack Campbell and Jimmy Davis)