Reflection 279: Watershed

June 18, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Perrin

    • This is the rain that feeds
    • the reservoir that fills
    • the basin that drains
    • through the green that breeds
    • the bugs that flit
    • over the lake that holds
    • the creatures that thrive
    • with the trout that spawned
    • the fish that Jack caught.

I have watersheds on the brain this morning because I made a photo flight for Friends of Taunton Bay over the watershed a couple of days ago, and have since been working on a PowerPoint to show land use in the area. Over the past 25 years, I have come to see watersheds as one of nature’s basic organizing principles for distributing water from high ground to low around the earth.

Watersheds are water receiving, storing, and distributing systems. Powered by gravity and sunlight, they support organic growth from mountain ridges to valley wetlands and streams. Watersheds are natural basins of life. Without them, we wouldn’t be here, up on two legs, looking around—or more likely, sitting on our butts, facing into a digitized display. Either way, whether we know it or not, we are personally engaged with the watersheds that support us every day of our lives. Since I am into loops of engagement, I am into watersheds, too.

Plants are the food-producing organs of a watershed. They rise out of wetness held in the soil to reach for carbon dioxide in the air and a share of the sun’s radiant energy. Combining water, carbon, and sunlight, they make carbohydrates, the starches and sugars that feed the Earth.

Animals are parts of a watershed too, like bubbles leaping from its surface to float freely on their own, but dependent on it all the while for food, water, shelter. In a very real sense we are mobile parts of a watershed, up on two legs or all fours, flowing not by gravity but by our own locomotion, ranging throughout our green basin of soil and water, turning wet land into a homeland. I see us as extensions of such homelands, products of their damp soil.

Here’s a photographic sampling of what my home watershed looks like from 1,500 feet in the air.

Hancock ShorelandBloxton MeadowMorrison HeathOld Meadow Springer Creek Rond IslandAquifer-E. FranklinSand Pit-CemeteryDonnell PondFox PondFlooded QuarriesSteve   Pilot Randy We are all 70 percent water, so if we know where that water comes from, we don’t hesitate to watch over and protect it as the source of ourselves. That is, if we are savvy and engaged. If we’re not, then we’re apt to get a homeland as sorry and mismanaged as the ones many of us find ourselves in today. Being fully engaged with the true source of our livelihoods—not the human economy but the natural world of planet Earth—is proof that the chief reason we are conscious is to be able to fend for ourselves. If we foolishly delegate that responsibility to others, then we place our survival in their hands, whether competent or incompetent.

We are so distracted by techno-commercialism these days, by endless wars and economic troubles, and by seeking entertainment to escape from those wars and troubles, we rarely take the time to perform our most fundamental job of watching out for ourselves. Our attention captured by clamoring others who distract us, we forget to watch where we’re going. With results to be headlined in future news bulletins of media that have taken over for our own eyes and ears.

We do well to remember that everything we do, including living on this Earth, is a watershed function. And then to follow through by engaging and truly occupying the source of our good fortune.

That’s my thought for the day. As ever, I remain vigilantly, y’r friend and brother, –Steve


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