“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink…” so says S.T. Coleridge in his poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The speaker is on a becalmed ship running out of potable water, surrounded by salt water that, of course, cannot be drunk.
In my post of August 19, Living Waters, I mentioned clean, fresh, drinkable water as a concern in many places in the world. Little did I know that we could add Houston and the entire state of Florida to that list after the recent horrendous hurricanes. Many residents of those states know what it is like to be surrounded by water yet worry about finding safe water to drink!
Here in the U.K., we are constantly surrounded by water — Edinburgh is a port city at the mouth of the river, Firth. Holy Island is a tidal island, cut off from the mainland by tides several times every 24 hours. Durham is a city originally built on the curve of a river so surrounded on 3 sides by the river Wear. The Lake District is, well, just what it says — a spectacular area of England where rivers, springs, and lakes, large and small, glisten between high mountains or fells. Water, water, everywhere….
Water also falls down from the sky with alarming but constant irregularity! It rained every one of the four days we spent in the Lake District. Here are my notes on a pretty typical morning here in Wales:
7am overcast and gloomy
8:15 sun breaking through clouds
9:00 pouring rain
10:15 sun breaking through
11:15 brilliant sunshine
All this rain keeps gardens vibrantly green, grass growing, and sheep happy as they graze on the hillsides! But it can be a challenge for people walking or hiking. I set out this morning for a walk in bright sunshine. Within 5 minutes, it was raining. The skies looked gray and threatening — perhaps I should turn back as this rain shower might turn into a downpour. By the time I returned to Gladstone’s Library, where we are staying here in Wales, the sun was shining again (as it is while I write this…).
Yesterday many of the students (and Dan) made it to the summit of Llanberis, or Mt. Snowdon, the highest peak (1,085 meters) in the British Isles outside of the Scottish Highlands. As we started out the sun was shining and stunning cumulus clouds sailed with the wind. As we got closer to the halfway point, the mist was descending from above as we tried to ascend. I decided I would like to stay warm and dry so headed back to the village for lunch (and lemon cake later in the afternoon!!). As the brave climbers approached the summit, they were pelted by heavy rain for about an hour. I have yet to talk with anyone who has actually seen the spectacular views from the top of Mt. Snowdon….
In Garrison Keillor style, I like to think that weather, real weather such as we have here in the U.K. or in Minnesota — unpredictable, changeable, annoying, disrupting weather — builds character! Just a reminder of how little in our lives is really under our control, although we convince ourselves otherwise.
But the recent hurricanes have been a tragic reminder of this lack of control, even over prediction models.
So I sign off from this green and pleasant isle, kept that way by unexpected and frequent showers, with prayers and love for those in Florida and Texas who are dealing with the destructive fury of too much water.