Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. ~ Nelson Mandela
I love birds – crows, wrens, sparrows, owls. I love watching them float lightly on currents of wind. I love the sound of their songs, the sweetness of them. I love how they sing hosannas and hallelujahs when the sun returns each morning. Somehow I lucked out when I rented this particular house. Birds gather in the backyard hovering on the branches of the citrus trees, and sit and caw on the ledge of the back fence. Hummingbirds sting the red blooms of the Fairy Duster outside of my office. A whole spectrum of cactus wrens and grackles pick at the gravel, slurping up ants and roots and other tasty bits.
This summer I put out a bowl of water under my orange tree. I heard that birds in the desert often die of thirst because they cannot find water during the scorching heat that bakes the Valley at this time of year. I set the bowl under one of the automatic sprinkler heads, so it would re-fill each time the tree was watered. It has been a great joy this season to watch the birds discover that small bowl of water. They call their friends when they stumble across it. Standing steadily on the lip of the old dog bowl, they drink, quickly dipping their beaks into the clean water. Some drink and then bathe. Some bathe and drink and throw water all around the bowl as they do so. Some carefully dip their feet in, testing its depth and then jump in. Most of the time they allow each of their compatriots time alone with this manna from heaven. No one crowds in. They take turns. When one bird finishes, another steps up and swan dives into the bowl, thirsty and ready to drink his or her fill.
I love watching this dance — this intricate, beautiful, simple pleasure — that passes from bird to bird. You can feel their deep gratitude at discovering this bowl of water — even if it is rimmed in slime from time to time on days when the sprinkler system isn’t flowing. They love it, even if dead leaves and feathers coat the surface. Water. Water is life.
It seems that human beings have forgotten this. We’ve forgotten the splendor of our planet. We’ve squandered it and instead worship money, progress, success at any price. I’ve heard that eventually our wars will be fought over water. No one — nothing on this planet can survive without water. A human being will die of dehydration within 72 hours if he or she cannot find water. And yet we pollute and we frack and we drill for oil near precious sources of water. What perverted part of our brains allows us to not have the foresight to see this is a dangerous (if not deadly) game?
One of the most moving news stories of the past year involved a little girl named Rachel Beckwith who asked that she be given donations to Charity Water for her ninth birthday. Charity Water builds wells for drinking water in Africa. Many people there must walk up to 12 miles round trip to get water. Rachel wanted to help. Her goal? $300.00. By her birthday Rachel had raised $260.00. Not bad for a nine-year-old, but still, she was disappointed. She wanted to do better. Unfortunately, a few weeks after her birthday, Rachel and her family were in a terrible car accident. She died as a result of her injuries. Her devastated parents put out a plea to raise money for Charity Water in Rachel’s name. They wanted to do something real to honor their little girl. The story was picked up locally in Seattle, and later went viral. As of today’s date, Rachel Beckwith’s Charity Water campaign has raised over $1,265,000.00 dollars for wells in Africa. Her parents recently visited the villages where some of Rachel’s wells were built. They went to see what her gift had done. Rachel’s campaign has given hundreds of people the chance to drink water that is easily accessible, clean, and free of disease.
Realize what a gift access to water is.
So many in the world do not have access to clean, potable water. In the U.S., we are so fortunate to have access to water. We shouldn’t squander it. We shouldn’t waste it. Living in the desert has helped me to see what a treasure water is. Watching the birds, watching their grateful bows to a simple bowl of water is a great reminder to be thankful, conscious, and wary of wasting something as valuable as water. Take nothing for granted. Protect water to protect life on earth.
Finally, avoid using chemicals that poison ground water if you can. The worst of the worst is Round Up. That stuff is toxic beyond belief. A great alternative is white vinegar. Simply fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray the weeds you want to kill. It takes a bit longer, but it does the trick. And it does it without seeping into the ground water, which is good for plants, animals, insects, and yes, people.
Post script: Saw this video on Facebook this morning. Mystically, it speaks to the issue of water and the effect that the polluting of our drinking water will have on life on earth. You can also go to YouTube to see Part 1.
I am blogging on a Friday instead of a Saturday because tomorrow I will be spending the day at a world wide biodiversity conference at the university. As a citizen, I’ve wanted to get involved in global issues, so I applied to be a participant during the summer and was excited to be chosen to do so. These meetings will be taking place simultaneously in thirty different countries. We are gathering to study the problem of global warming and the need to protect biodiversity on the planet. Our views will be compiled and used for a world wide meeting in India in October of this year.
I will let you know what I learn.
© 2012 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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