Monday, February 4, 2008

The Edge-iness of Rain

The rain continues to tumble. Sleeting down. Heavy. Fast. Thick. So much water has fallen in the past few weeks that the once much sought-after rain has also delivered floods, anxieties and severe loss to places that a such a short time ago were parched. The dams in SE Queensland that supply water to homes and industries are filling slowly, but even after all this rain, one of the major dams is still only 18.03 per cent full. The rivers are thirsty. They have a lot of catching up to do.

The Queensland Water Commission states: 'Understanding our water cycle is critical to ensuring that we manage our water resources.'

Knowledge of the intricacies of the water cycle needs to leap out of the primary school science lesson and into an imaginative and innovative campaign aimed at raising awareness and understanding of the beauty of the water system as the hilltop trees catch the rain and channel it through water-brimming rivers to the ocean, where through evaporation the water rises to the clouds, plumps them with watery greyness which sheds more life-bringing rain back into the system. Continuously. The movement of the water cycle connecting nature and human.

Evaporation. Transpiration. Respiration. Inspiration.

One place of inspiration where the water cycle plays centre stage is the Mt Cootha Botanical Gardens children's garden. We walked sheltered from the very light rain beneath the rainforest canopy and followed the interactive trail as it snaked its way along the rushing creek. Lizards darted out between the stones, water dripped from the overhead branches and signs painted on the pathway directed us to look harder, listen deeper, feel and wonder.

This magical trail was dotted with evocative artworks - the giant water dragon sculpture in the pond was surrounded by living water dragons, one perched on its big tail; a whimsical orange snake made from an old car muffler wound around a branch digesting its mufflery meal, and gloriously-crafted dragonflies adorned the bridge across the pond like exquisite sentinels.

Green was abundant. Flourishing. Bursting as if the plants were growing right before our eyes. And they were.

We watched as tiny native bees crafted their delicious-tasting honey in the knotty trunk of an old eucalypt and listened to the ringing of birdsong and the rhythms of cascading waters. The trees revelled in the rain. They understood intimately the significance of the water cycle of which they are a central feature. The sources of water are not only 'our water resources'. They are a shared resource between human and nature.