On Water and Trees


 

I wanted to share with you this painting of one of my favorite places in the world.  I found it when I was looking for this:

The Treasure Hunt begins...

 

But that is another story.  Well, they are connected, actually, but I don’t want to go long-winded here.  What propelled my to my computer this morning is a series of articles I’ve been reading in National Geographic magazines about water.  First there was a horrific series about what is going on in China, the “Factory to the World”.  To provide us with endless supplies of cheap plastic they are polluting their rivers and seeing cancer rates jump.  To meet demand for water and to control flooding they have created enormous dams.  Sadly, the dams have created siltation problems and pollution, no longer being flushed by water flow, actually becomes more concentrated.

Jump to Australia, where an entire river was diverted for irrigation and forests were cut down to grow crops.  I don’t know how things are there now, as the article was written in 2009, but at that time farmers were being forced to throw in the towel because of many years of drought.

Then I look at my painting with new eyes.  I think how very lucky I am to live here, where long ago leaders had the foresight to set land aside.  These wetlands were not drained, these trees were not cut.  Many years ago a college professor made the claim that trees create rain.  This seemed a little far-fetched to me, but he showed slides and data to support it.  There is proof that where the jungle is clear-cut, for example, rainfall diminishes dramatically.  Studies have since been done in the Pacific Northwest that back this up.

The reason I wanted to talk about this is because whenever things get tough, the first instinct is often to look for blame and to make hasty choices.  Already in my area I hear dark mutterings against the Forest Preserve District for buying land and setting it aside.  What the District is doing is creating a “Green Corridor” along the Des Plaines River.  The goal is to give the river room to meander a little, with wetlands along its edges to sponge up floodwaters and purify pollutants.  This makes so much sense to me, and I marvel when I hear of other areas not doing similar things.

One thing is very clear to me: if we keep our river ecosystems healthy, it will go a long way toward keeping our planet, and us, healthy.

Well, those are my big civic thoughts.  On a more personal note, the reason I love this place is frogs.  Yup.  I love wading through wet meadow-woods-edgy places looking for tadpoles, tiny fishes, interesting bugs, wild looking plants.  Birds call from the trees and deer bound about.  Once I came across a great horned owl roosting close to the ground.  She- (I dunno- she seemed like a she)- was huge!  One look into her fierce yellow eyes and I backed cautiously away.  wow….

 

 

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3 thoughts on “On Water and Trees

  1. Ah, skunk cabbage! We lived near a swamp and a vernal pool and so I am well acquainted with skunk cabbage. 🙂 I agree with you, the health of our rivers is essential to the overall health of our planet. And the more green corridors we manage to establish the better for all of nature and wildlife.

    • Isn’t skunk cabbage a fun plant? I had more fun tracking it down when first I heard about it. Since then it has been an annual event for me and my kids to go out schlepping around where it grows and celebrate the coming if spring. They’re both grown, now…don’t know whether I’ll be able to coax them into joining me this year! I hope you and your husband are feeling well. It was so good to hear from you! Melissa

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  2. ‘Tis a lovely painting of a marsh. The colors make me want to go there.

    Steve Schwartzman
    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com

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