Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday: Water

I know, I did excuse myself from this Friday's Shootout, due to the fact that I have no pictures of water whatsoever stocked in my computer, no time to go out and take any, and I'm spending the day (elongated by 7 hours time difference) in planes and airports. But what's there to do in Newark Airport for four hours other than have a $11 glass of pinot grigio and mess around on the web?
So I'll just tell you about water.
I did start this blog as a writing thing, after all. Can't let the pictures take it over entirely.
Water in a way shaped my life. It was a significant part of my learning the value of things, as a listener-in of long conversations (or were they rants? did anyone else get a word in?) in my grandfather's house. He lived in Valley Center, California, a 45-minute drive north from our home in suburban San Diego. As a grower of oranges and avocados in that high desert region, migrant workers and water were the topics of choice.
The cost of water. Scandalous. Breaking the backs of hard-working men.
I heard so much about the scarcity of water and how its price was driving honest growers to ruin, that I never understood toothpaste commercials. (you can see here I've finished that glass of wine.)
Really. Every toothpaste commercial on tv, and even tv shows not particularly selling dental hygene, showed smiling, white-toothed people brushing in front of the mirror with the water running.
Why on earth run water down the sink for absolutely no reason while brushing your teeth?
We never did that in my house.
We didn't water the lawn, either. We replaced the front lawn with a field of rocks, from which we picked debris and dead leaves once a year or so in a despised, but much needed day.
And then as a teenager, driving past miles and miles of cotton fields on our way to backpacking in the mountains or along the Colorado. Absolutely horrified to learn that those farmers in the middle of the desert got their water practically free because of government subsidies sucking the river so dry that it hasn't reached the sea for decades now, and the hungry Mexicans who would like to be able to use its water to grow their own crops are just s*** out of luck. Meanwhile, poor countries desperate to sell their cotton because it's all they have, they can't get a decent price because the market is flooded with falsely cheap California product.
I bet it's still that way today.
Another load of brick in the making of a liberal.
The difference water can make was the first thing I noticed in moving to Minneapolis. What was all this green? And it stuck around all summer! Those people, they don't worry about running the faucet while brushing their teeth. They don't circle around the water bill over coffee in the evening. (Well, being Minnesotans, maybe they do.)
Nor do they where I live now in central France. The hills are green and water is everywhere. It fell from the sky in such abundance a particular week last year it ruined most of my cherry crop. Not so far south of here it's more like California - crops sucking up what there is, demanding ever more; fires racing through the hills regularly.
Water is a funny thing. Abundant here, rare just next door, existing in endless quantities just next door again but so salty as to be useless to us.
A question of distribution we have yet to solve. A question of value and price we need to address more honestly and fairly.
So that's my thing about water.


Elaine Dale said...

I was sooo hoping that someone would have a good rant about water! Excellent, I love all the personal tie -ins. How many glasses of wine gone now?? Happy travels.

BTW, love the "fish sex" comment!

Gordon said...

Very interesting dialog on water. I enjoyed it as much as I would have enjoyed photos. Sometimes words can be worht a thousand pictures. Thanks for the post.

Kim said...

Ahhh yes. I grew up in Anaheim, California. And because of the intense campaigning of water frugality through commercials and my Mother and my school teachers,(thirty years later), I still shut the tap off after I've wet the toothpaste on the toothbrush. I take quick showers...I'm overly aware of the wet stuff.

And I live in Illinois now (over twenty years). We have more than enough water it seems.

A couple of years ago I was in Las Vegas for a business trip, and was able to take a side road trip across the Hoover dam. The water level has dropped precariously. The situation out there is dismal. Not enough water for infrastructure...

I've heard that in the near future...wars will be fought over fresh water.

Butler and Bagman said...

I think you should get the award for the best photo-shoot sans photos ever! Your blog reminded me of a modern art exhibit I once saw with large white canvases that looked blank until you went over to them closely and the artist had written beautiful descriptions in faint pencil...describing in words what the painting would have looked like. Great stuff!

GingerV said...

when the oil is no longer faught over the wars will be about water. I liked the way write, how you see things. I will be back for more.

The Pink Birdhouse said...

No pictures! Not disappointing in the least, because I very much enjoyed reading your little story about water! Goes to show that we don't always need pictures in our posts. As for what to do in Newark Airport for 4 hours, well being from NJ myself, I know that spending 4 hours in Newark is like spending 4 das elsewhere! it is a long long time! Seems you found the perfect way to make the hours disappear. Take care, and have a good Sunday. Debby

Doreen said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on water. and a lot of it brings back memories of my childhood. we were taught not to be wasteful of anything, water, food, gas, etc. No matter what is was we were taught to respect and treasure it. This is lost in today's world I think.

EastwoodDC said...

May I recommend the book Cadillac Desert, by Mark Reisner. I think you might like it.