I recently wondered, what in my experience most often compels me to experience appreciation? The answer was immediate—water. I must think to myself how grateful I am for water on the average of twenty to thirty times a day—beginning with the luxury of being able to shower in a blend of hot and cold running water. A visitor from another country marveled that we Americans actually bathe in water that is drinkable! I think of my grandparents who, when they were young, had to pump freezing cold water from a cistern, carry it into the house and then heat it on a wood-burning stove in order to take a bath. As kids my sister and I used to sit in their round, four-foot metal tub and play with toys to keep cool in the summertime. It must have taken ten or twelve buckets to fill it. And always my aunt poured in a bucket or two of hot water from the stove before we could get in.

Another frequent event that always triggers my appreciation of water is working in the darkroom. I’ve been making photographs continuously since 1958, in high school. After that I built a darkroom wherever I lived, always in addition to those I worked in professionally. At one point I turned my entire efficiency apartment into a darkroom. Point is, I used a LOT! of water. Still do. One of the great blessings in my life is to live in a place where it’s consistent, abundant, clean and inexpensive. Photographers in many places have to alter the water in order to get consistent results with their materials. Not so much now with the advent of digital cameras and printers. I don’t like that I use so much water, but I take some comfort in knowing that it’s being processed and recycled. It also helps when I remember that every molecule of water that existed on the earth millions of years ago is still here today.

I think most of us don’t take water for granted. Consciously or unconsciously, every time we turn on a tap or flush a toilet we understand and appreciate that we have access to water. And we know that there are uncountable numbers of people who do have access. A parallel appreciation is that there are legions of people in this country who are responsible for water and its delivery. Considering recent news stories about cities with contaminated water due to lead pipes, I have even more reason to appreciate the people who oversee and maintain our local water supply and delivery systems. My appreciation deepens when television shows us severe flooding, drought conditions, contaminated water supplies and people who spend the bulk of their lives hauling and making water useable.

Life proliferates in water. Without it there would be no vegetation, trees, animals, birds, fish, reptiles or humans. And on balance it can kill, as when there is too little or too much of it. It can be beautiful when it’s calm, menacing as tsunami. We love to play in it, but we can also drown in it. That’s well known. Less well known are some facts that a little research from Buzzfeed brought to light.

  • If all the water on Earth—which would fill 800 trillion Olympic swimming pools—was spread evenly over the surface it would have a depth of 13, 000 ft.
  • 97% of the Earth’s water is salty. 2.1% is locked up in polar ice caps and less than 1% is available as fresh water.
  • Water is the second most common molecule in the universe. The most common is hydrogen gas.
  • All the water on Earth arrived in comets and asteroids. It happened between 4.5 billion and 3.8 billion years ago, a period called the Late Heavy Bombardment.
  • There is ice on the poles of the moon, and on the poles of Mars and Mercury.
  • The biggest known cloud of water vapor was discovered by NASA scientists around a black hole 12 billion light years from Earth. There is 140 trillion times as much water in it as all the water in our oceans.
  • Hot water freezes faster than cold water. This is known as the Mpemba Effect, and no one knows why it happens.
  • It takes 51 gallons of water to produce the coffee beans for one cup of coffee.
  • It takes 4,000 gallons of water to produce 1 kilogram of beef.
  • At -120 °C water becomes ultraviscous, thick-like molasses. Below -135 °C, it becomes a solid with no crystal structure.
  • Our personal DNA is long enough to wrap around the planet 5 million times. All the cells in the world contain DNA be they animal, vegetal, or bacterial and they are all filled with salt water, in which the concentration of salt is similar to that of the worldwide ocean.
  • Blood is 92% water.

Relative to us I wanted to know specifically what water does for the body.

  • It balances all the other body fluids.
  • It controls calories.
  • It energizes muscles.
  • It makes the skin glow.
  • It improves kidney function.
  • It detoxifies the body.
  • It regulates body temperature.
  • It lubricates joints.
  • And it delivers nutrients to the organs

That’s why we’re advised to drink 64 ounces (8 glasses) of water a day.

I can’t reference the source, but there’s a wonderful analogy relating to water. The suggestion is that, while each of us is an individual drop in the ocean of Divinity, we are all one in that substance. As embodied beings we live on the surface and experience the waves of change, while in the depths there is constancy.

Water is the driving force of all nature.

Leonardo da Vinci

Water is the lifeblood of our bodies, our economy, our nation and our well-being.

Stephen Johnson

In one drop of water are found all the secrets of the oceans.

Khalil Gibran

Title: Pine Island Sunset (Near Brookville, Florida)

File: 617-B1

My parents retired to Brookville, Florida. Pine Island was nearby, so we often went there on visits. The pier at the end of the road was a place to fish, catch crabs and watch the sunset. But visually, the better part for me was the drive going and coming along the roadway that led to the park. The rust brown water and vast expanses of sawgrass with little islands of palm trees rising in the distance was compelling. This photograph was made on one of those visits.


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