By Debby Gregorash
I am water. I am a pond at the moment, in the foothills of Alberta.
Earlier this year, I was a big snowdrift on the side of a steep hill. I was the last to melt, as the sun rose past the spring equinox.
I sank into the earth and gave nourishment to trees, wild flowers, grasses, Saskatoons, wild roses, Cow Parsnip, and all the other plants until my excess resurfaced as a pond. I am water and take ownership of whatever shape the landscape gives me, so at the moment, I am a pond by the forest.
There is a mother Bufflehead duck and her ducklings swimming around my surface and diving for food. There are fish swimming in me and dragonflies and tree swallows tickle my surface, as they catch insects that carry out part of their life cycle in and around water.
The muskrat likes to dig a den in my bank and swim about looking for tasty grasses and shrubs to nibble. My shore offers protection from enemies unable to locate the door to his den.
When I, as a pond, overflow my banks, I feed a marsh — which will in turn feed the willows. Those willows burst with new growth to feed moose all year long and in the spring many songbirds and warblers, such as the yellow warbler, will nest in the willows and raise their babies there.
Soon I will leave this pond. Some of me will rise into the sky to form a cloud, which will fall as rain somewhere far away. Part of me will be consumed by elk, moose, deer and many other creatures that come to my shore to quench their thirst. Nothing can live without me. I am the lifeblood of this land.
Some of me seeps into the ground and moves through its pores to the creek below. I then travel many kilometres to a larger stream that meanders through the countryside from the foothills to the prairie. That which is not diverted to irrigation country continues on until it reaches the ocean. In the great seas of the world, I provide a home for myriad creatures that live near coral reefs, or deep at the bottom of the ocean. Whales and fish swim up and down my coastlines in schools or pods, hunting for food and finding places to give birth.
Salmon travel up my rivers to spawn. The Bald-headed eagle lives off the salmon, as do the bears that live in the forests along the rivers. The mink and otter seek sustenance from my rivers and oceans.
As an ocean, my temperature can fluctuate and I affect the weather all around the planet. I am part of the energy of creation.
Occasionally, your towns are flooded. Nature has ways to slow me down. Beavers create dams in the mountains and foothills, and I am held back to be released slowly, avoiding a flood downstream. Floods can be beneficial. Along the riverbanks, the rush of water redistributes minerals and nutrients allowing for more forests to grow.
The rivers clear and once again you enjoy me by simply turning on a tap. You use me for drinking, washing and watering your gardens.
Sometimes, you humans pause in your daily lives to recognize my holiness. A child or adult is baptised in water and you are born again into love. I have witnessed those with grateful hearts performing other ceremonies on my river shores.
I flow out irrigation structures to feed crops that might in turn feed other creatures you feed on. I like to think you are cognisant of my generosity.
Respect me, praise me, be thankful for me. I make up most of your body and the earth itself. Use me wisely, do not use me as a dump for poisons and use only what you really need for there are millions of species that share me and they must be allotted their fair proportion.