How many people have written about water? I think the answer is somewhere between “a whole bunch” and “lots and lots and lots.” So add me to the count. I am one of those people who is at their absolute happiest when I am near, on or in the water. And judging from the hoards that flock to the beaches, lakes, rivers and pools, I am not alone.
For all my love of water, I also have a very healthy respect for it. It can be calm and serene one minute, and chaotic and destructive the next. We can only typically see what’s on the surface or perhaps a few feet below it. Except for those glorious bodies of crystal clear water one finds in the tropics. But even then, our ability to see everything below the surface is limited. Which for me adds to the mystery of water. What lurks just beyond my vision? I have seen too many horror movies to allow me to only imagine happy little fish and gently swaying aquatic plants are all that exists just past what I can see.
Water will always seek a state of equilibrium. Even as it rushes over a water fall or crashes to the shore, it’s goal is to become level. This flat, even plain of water’s surface belies what is occurring above and below. The membrane where water meets air is both static and constantly changing. Even in the calmest of days, when the surface is like a sheet of glass, the water is still in constant movement. Only when it freezes does it sit still. But then it’s no longer water. It’s ice. And that’s not what I’m writing about.
Not withstanding impurities and others things found in water, it is basically clear. Any color a body of water may have is a result of the other stuff suspended in it, and how the surroundings reflect off of it. The color we see on the water surface is ever changing. And it’s inherent ability to reflect what’s around it just adds to its allure.
When I am lucky enough to be near a body of water, I can easily spend hours just gazing at it. No book or movie or sports event has ever so consistently and fully captured my attention and imagination. Watching waves and ripples is fascinating. There is often a rhythm to them, which may seem repetitive yet is different every single second. This duality of calm and movement, repetition and uniqueness is what so captivates me as I stare at water.
At the ocean, where the water surface extends to the horizon, the sense of flatness and expansiveness is powerful. On rivers and lakes, where there is a far shore may terminate the view, the flat water surface provides a counterpoint to the varying elements of the land around it. It is this even flatness that gives water it’s magical appeal. Yet that flatness is in constant motion.
The sounds that water can create are equally as amazing. The sound of waves at the beach is far and away my favorite of all. The sounds a river makes as it flows over rocks is also incredible. The gentle lapping of waves can also be sublimely lovely. And who doesn’t love the sound of rain, especially those steady summer soakers after a hot humid stretch. The presence of fountains around the world – especially in cities where they provide a respite from the cacophony of urban noises – is also very welcome and sought after.
And then there’s the undeniable refreshing feeling a dip in the water provides. When we enter the water and submerge ourselves, our whole body is impacted by the affects of this plunge. It cools us on a hot day, or warms us when we’re chilled.
I could go on and on about water. But I will stop here. And simply end with one of my favorite quotes – featured on this site’s landing page – by Norman Maclean from “A River Runs Through It” –
The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.