Monday, August 9, 2021


The landscape is created by the water.
Photo credit: David Young

by Beth Sullivan

The swamp is an indistinct edge between
land and water.

Not sure exactly why I have been thinking so much about water.   Probably a dozen different reasons.  One is a book I am reading about the 1930’s Dust Bowl era and drought and how everything, and everyone, simply dried up.  Physically and emotionally.  Maybe it is because as I am sitting and writing, my window is open and I can smell the rain as it is falling outside.  Though we had an unusually wet July  after even a week of typical summer heat and bright sun, my gardens wilted and I was grateful to have a hose and a reliable source of water to remedy the situation.   I cannot imagine the vast plains of our country dried and dusty. Dead.

Recent news headlines and photos report on the drastically low levels of water in the reservoirs out west.  Resources are simply not there.  Enough snow didn’t fall in the mountains or it melted earlier and faster and the slow steady replenishment has ceased.   The massive fires are just mind boggling and the airlifted loads of water transported and dumped on the flames seem so ineffectual It is so impossible to think of where that water is coming from and how much energy it takes to transport it to the fire site. 

The smallest drops conquer thirst.
Instinctively we understand our bodies are made up of a lot of water. We recognize, without thinking,  when we need to drink. Even the smallest infant has that instinct.  All levels of organisms from complex beings to the most microscopic single celled life forms, are reliant on water.  We know that our planet is mostly water. It is the Blue Planet.  Many of us turn to water in some form or another, for our rest, peace, tranquility. Vacations.  We head to the ocean for inspiration, we sit by rivers, wade in ponds, dabble in brooks, paddle in swamps and are mesmerized by waterfalls.  Water has the ability to sculpt rock and create landscapes.

The smallest of frogs was
nurtured by a vernal pool.

We really need to think even a bit deeper though, especially as the climate is changing. Think about water that is a bit less obvious but equally as essential.  Maybe even more.  As I walked in the woods earlier this week, the path ahead of me seemed to be alive with movement. On closer inspection, I counted dozens of really, really, small spring peepers!   It was obvious that these were this year’s young, newly transformed from small tadpoles. Where had they come from? There is no pond nearby. But this spring, thanks to continuous rains, the vernal wetland in the woods stayed waterfilled long enough to support a full hatch of peepers.  It also probably supported many other creatures that depend on the same lucky circumstances.

However, this one wet spring wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit of drought experienced over the last several summers. We are still seeing mighty Oaks, whose roots extend far and deep, succumb to the stresses of the last dry years.  That is related to ground water. Deep resources, springs, aquifers, and headwaters where the earth’s waters merge, purified and restored to hydrate the deepest roots and to replenish our reservoirs.

Streams refresh.
Part of Avalonia’s mission to preserve and protect the land we love, also includes the waters both above and below ground, which the land itself protects. Most of our recent acquisitions include significant wetlands or offer buffers to important waterways in our area.  We need to really give more thought to the water we are blessed with, follow it back from the tap to the reservoir to the stream to the aquifer or spring. What replenishes that?  Please visit some of our preserves with a different view. Think of the life-giving water that is present. Think of how the water creates the habitat. Think of all the organisms that depend on that water. We know about greenways. Think blue ways too.




Still water reflects.

We are drawn to water for its ability
to soothe.

All photos by Beth Sullivan, except where noted.