Thursday, January 13, 2011

Water, is taught by thirst

Water, is taught by thirst.
Land -- by the Oceans passed.
Transport -- by throe --
Peace -- by its battles told --
Love, by Memorial Mold --
Birds, by the Snow.

                      -Emily Dickinson

I have said this before, but I will say it again: Hawaii is defined by water.  The Pacific Ocean shapes how we spend our time, what we put on our tables for dinner, and the price we pay for the everyday "necessities" of life.  Water is thick in the air, and sometimes falls from the sky so intensely it is easy to believe some ancient, angered deity is attempting to scour the island clean.  Clouds hang heavy in the valleys of mountains filled to bursting with all things green and growing.  Water shapes, paints, and provides for the islands.

Utah, where I lived before Hawaii, is also largely defined by water. Hawaii is defined by abundance. Utah is defined by dearth.  The air and ground are dry. Walking across the desert, moisture flees the body.  Got a sandwich?  Eat it fast. Bread goes stale in exactly 43 seconds.  Faster if there is a breeze.  Canyons which collect and shelter water are often the only havens for life in the desert.

If Ms. Dickinson is correct, I would appreciate water in Utah in a way that is impossible in Hawaii.  I could be wrong, of course, but I think she has missed something in her argument.  I have never appreciated water more than I do now.  I have become more aware of the simple beauty of the thing by constantly interacting with it.  By spending my free time surrounded by it.  By thinking about how it affects everything I do and say and am.  

Maybe this is because I once lived in the desert and now I don't.  Maybe.  But I don't think so.

And since Ms. Dickinson doesn't really care about water or birds, but rather our loved ones, I think there is an important lesson to learn here.