Sunday, July 12, 2009


Every morning, after the dog walk but before I put on my tie, I grab a handful of koi pellets, go to the pond in the back yard, and thrust my arm almost to my elbow into the cold water. I let the pellets slowly float free to the surface from between my fingers, but keep enough in my down-turned palm that one or another of the koi find it worth their while to nibble directly from my hand.

Th water is cold, and it has an unmistakable odor. It is one of the most sensual moments of my far too lock-step day. Each day a different memory of water floats into my head as I resist the urge to get my hand out of the frigid wet.

The koi water and the water of my numerous aquaria are the only regular associations with water in my life, and I regret that. When I am feeling stress, I often think of water ... the open ocean at night, great rivers, and, most of all, the endless streams and lakes of northern Canada.

I remember when i was a teenager and a bunch of us were on some sort of camping expedition ... the details are foggy. My friend Peter, with whom I was secretly in love, and I filched a rowboat from some other campers. We paddled around in overgrown waterways. Suddenly, Peter dropped his glasses into a muddy byway. He stripped to his underwear and dove in. When he was gone, I was frozen in lust ... his all but naked body revealed. He surfaced, wet and pale white, gathered his breath, and plunged down again. He never found his glasses, and I have never recovered from that association of wet and the object of my ardent, teenage desires.

I thought of that today when the Washington Post published this photo:

Water is the other medium, other than air, where we vacation but where we do not live. Many are those whose lives are entirely bound into water. But they still live in air.

I hanker for water. My sainted ex, Richard, had a kayaking hobby for some time, and I vicariously kayaked with him. I still treasure the photos he took when surrounded entirely by water in Alaskan fjords.

Water drives history, of course, and it will drive the torments that await us in the next centuries. I have been reading Mesopotamian history, and we know that hydraulics lie underneath the economics that created empire and power and majesty. But, curiously, the Mesopotamians set water to the side of their cosmological views, and worshiped instead air and sky in the "persons" of Enlil and Marduk. Water surrounded and undergirded. But it was never the center.

Last evening, it rained just a little ... enough that I took the cushions off the yard chairs.

The first time I visited Berlin, I sat by the fountain in Kufurstendamm one morning, transfixed simultaneously by the fountain itself and some passing beauty seated on the other side of me. I had no camera, so I have no record. But the fountain took on that extra meaning of unrequited lust. The last time I visited Berlin, I tried to find that moment again. Instead, I found a great fountain.

Water is like that. We trace our passions in it, and it washes them away.

We never touch the same water twice. Though we try.

Top photo by Arod of fountain at the Major Research University where I wet wash for wages; middle photo from the news today; bottom photo from by Arod from Berlin.

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