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Water is life.

At least, most forms of life need water. Indeed, most forms of life are mostly made of water.

Water is some amazing stuff. It’s one of the few things that ordinary people in ordinary circumstances see in solid, liquid, and gaseous phases. One thing that’s unusual about water is that when it freezes, it expands. It also has a high “heat capacity.” This means that water takes a lot of heat energy, relative to most materials, to increase its temperature. It also means that, once heated, it takes a long time for the water to cool to the ambient temperature. It’s why land areas that are near the oceans tend to be more moderate in temperature than similar places inland.

A hundred miles inland from where I live is a place called “Palm Desert.” The average night temp in the coldest month is 41 degrees Fahrenheit while the average daytime temperature in the warmest month is 107 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a difference of 66 degrees! I live near San Diego, a few miles from the ocean. For San Diego, the average coldest temperature is 51 degrees and the average for the high is 77. That’s a difference of 26 degrees. Quite a difference. That difference is due to the high heat capacity of water.

Water is beautiful in many forms: rivers, springs, waterfalls, clouds, rainbows, dew, rainstorms, ocean waves are just a few of the many ways that water strikes us as beautiful.

A well-fed adult human can last weeks without food but only a few days without water. I wonder whether we also need the beauty of water. It shows that the region we’re in may be survivable. It also indicates there is other life as well nearby. Perhaps as a corollary to these, water may remind us as well that what is “out there” and beautiful to look at is also “in here” — inside us.

Water also plays with and transforms light. When water shows itself as droplets, as shown in the pictures here, it demonstrates two aspects of its nature: it adheres to other surfaces and it coheres to itself. A drop of water on a flower or leaf demonstrates its dual nature. This is also our own dual nature. We must play our part for a time as a separate droplet, but such a droplet does not keep that form forever. Each one of these water droplets has been part of a cloud, part of a river, part of an ocean. We too change. We too need to be coherent. But we also need to interact with and adhere, at least for a time, to aspects of our environment.

A drop of water does not obscure the form of the leaf or petal it finds itself on. Rather, the droplet enhances the form of the leaf or petal upon which it rests.

What about you?

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