Walking on the beach for the first time this year, I’m thinking of water. Not just about the waves that are cresting toward the shore or about the rain that fell all last night but about water in general… life giving, indispensable, wonderful water.
What would we do without water? What could we do without water? It’s around us, it’s inside us (it’s said that about 6o% of our bodies is made up of water and I’ve heard that our brains are made up of about 70% of the same substance!). Water is in the air, on and in the ground, and a good thing, too, since life on earth wouldn’t have had a chance without it.
Barren desert sand…
Here was once a great ocean,
And life was teeming.
So many poets have written about water. “Roll on, thou deep, dark ocean, roll,” exhorted Byron, while Langston Hughes spoke of rivers dusky and ancient. Then there is that much quoted Basho poem about the frog at an ancient pond and the sound he makes as he dives in, and a less known but elegant haiku by another master:
The pond and the river
Have become one
In the spring rain.
Legends have grown up around water, too… mermaids and nixes and water goblins and sprites inhabit folktales and in real life Ponce de Leon really did try to find the fountain of youth. Books have been written around water: David MacPhail’s Water Boy, and Judith Andersen’s Once There Was a Raindrop, Tauk Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and the many passages in Tolkien’s Ring trilogy (who could forget old Tom Bombadil?) to name a very few.
Some scientists have theorized that water came to our earth by way of a comet made of ice, and astrophysics are now studying the other inhabitants in our solar system for signs of water—and the possibility of life. Even our moon is said to have deep-buried pockets of water! Mars, that now-dead planet, was once thought to have had some as well, while Jupiter’s moon, Europa, has a very thick aqueous outer layer. And further on? It stands to reason that some intergalactic neighbor harbors this precious substance. Think of it…
This drop of water
may have traveled for light years
to touch my dry lips!
So I think about water as I walk along the beach—stopping for a moment to return a stranded starfish to the life-giving sea.