The recent rains of our long-anticipated monsoon season remind us of water’s power, both emotionally (ahhhhh!) and physically, in the raw power of a flash flood to move things around.
After a dry spring, we couldn’t wait for some rain; the parched earth all but gave up on the prospect, top layer blowing off as dust, underneath hardening to cement. Difficult to re-hydrate, the ground now seems to repel absorption.
Subsequent storm runoff is aggressive, tearing off chunks, gathering force, rearranging our surfaces: roads, ponds, potholes, and sidewalks are scoured, then slickened with a red pudding of silt, yielding debris both fabulous and foul.
Waterfalls are our silver lining, but even here, at the cliff’s edge, water is busy loosening the big stuff.
Famine or feast, drought or flood; Sometimes, in our new normal, one leads to the other.
Water — a little bit can change your entire perspective. Here in the desert, water is so rare, so precious, we rejoice over a rain that yields half an inch, and so dangerous when unpredictable. That half-inch of rain, dumped ferociously in one spot for five minutes, rips a new canyon somewhere.
Looking at our blue planet and the amount of water whose power could be unleashed, it feels like a good time to consider our world in new terms, because the old terms are no longer working in our favor.
Heat waves, violent storms, catastrophic fires, drought, flooding — this is our new normal.
Yes, these things have always happened naturally, and they used to be alarming. Now they happen everywhere with such frequency and consequences that we numb out. There are too many people living in inappropriate spots, too much infrastructure that is vulnerable, too many rapacious land-use policies, and too many by-products of our consumer-driven culture.
We are arrogant to think we can control nature and ignorant to think that we humans are not amplifying natural climate change. I’m just a phenological farmer, a tiny potato in the big stir-fry, and I get this. How is it that the brainier decision-makers, the folks we put in charge, don’t get it?
Immersion in water, be it ocean or irrigation pond, is one of life’s supreme pleasures. Will tomorrow’s children know the delight of clean, running water, safe to drink, cool enough to roll around in? Or will we make it a commodity so that, much as kids today think meat comes from the market, they will also think water grows in plastic bottles? Will clean tap water become a luxury for the wealthy? Already this primo liquado is in short supply in many of the world’s most densely populated spots. And I’m surprised on a regular basis to find that we Americans, who are comparatively water-wealthy, seem to put a higher value on other fluids. Here in the West, where one might assume that we know how to cherish every drop, we still issue water rights to big-use interests like nuclear power plants. What if we woke up to find our waters poisoned or depleted? Our gardens fried to a crisp, our livestock withered.
What crisis will it take for us to appreciate that water makes all our lives possible?
Should the government have our collective back, our best interests at heart? In the case of water, I believe that yes, our government should be working to safeguard the health of our waters, and consequently its citizens, even if it means sometimes saying no to business interests.
Given the divided politics of our nation, is this not something we can all agree on, that we need clean water to live? If we are to survive as a nation, we have to start agreeing on something, somewhere, and recognizing the critical value of water is as basic a commonality as it gets.
Enough ranting about water; let’s move on to solar energy.
We are blessed with an abundance of sun, so much that a cloudy day is a gift, humidity notwithstanding (it’s not the heat, it’s the stupidity).
I think I’d like the sun a whole lot more if we made better use of its power to fill our energy needs. Instead we generate more heat, needing more power to cool our homes and vehicles. How is it that a nation like Germany can be more solar-oriented than we on the Colorado Plateau? That we in Moab who struggle to diversify our economy cannot find solar alternatives to generate income?
Puzzles to taunt us as we search for shady parking.
Alice and Ken Drogin own and operate Canyon Nursery in Castle Valley, where the flowers are brighter, the lizards are faster and the magpies speak in tongues. More information about Canyon Nursery is available online at: facebook.com/CanyonNursery.
ByBy Alice Drogin