WE are born 78 per cent water. To think about it blows my mind, and there’s no time I think about it more than in the midst of a central Victorian summer.
For those of us who depend on tank water to survive, it’s even more of an obsession.
Weeks measured out in the likelihood of rain – pouring precious bucket loads onto the trees that need it most – one eye always on the CFA website.
In the weeks of relentless heat, it’s water that keeps us sane.
Our brains and hearts are mostly water. It’s no wonder that when we take a break from work and school and all the other obligations of our busy lives, we are drawn to water.
To the coast, to rivers, to lakes… lured, as Hermann Hesse wrote, by the voice of life… the perpetual movement and caress of water.
Water crashing onto rocks and beaches, water carving a path through the landscape in search of the sea, water gently lapping against the trees and jetties of inland lakes – a lazy arvo at the local pool.
Wherever we are, we find our water.
Last week we found ours in Warrnambool, where the vast sky meets the bluest of blue oceans.
I’ve always been terrified by the sea, or more precisely what lies beneath its surface.
I’m the guy who paddles in the shallows, reciting James Joyce’s perfect line fromUlysses, “The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.”
But last week I followed my water-loving sister (I think she might be about 98 per cent) into the pounding surf – a boogie board strapped to my quivering wrist.
For the best part of an hour, Iwasthe water – squealing like a boy as each wave thrust me like flotsam to the shore – sea foam caressing my skin.
Heading back inland the next day, I finally understood the allure of the big blue; why 85 per cent of Australians live a stone’s throw from the coast.
The smell of the sea quickly faded as we drove through parched bush and farmland towards home – the baked clay and cicada chorus of a Strathfieldsaye summer.
The following morning, miraculously, the heavens opened.
The gutters overflowed with the sheer volume of water, and drenched to the skin, we filled buckets and ferried them to the rainwater tank – not wanting to waste one lifegiving drop.
As I stood on the ladder emptying buckets, thunder cracking overhead, I thought of a story my dad told me as a kid.
That the water I was pouring had probably been to Africa and the North Pole… Genghis Khan may have drunk it… Cleopatra might have bathed in it…
Maybe it was a wave on a Warrnambool beach.
“We’re all water in different containers,” Yoko Ono wrote to John Lennon.
“Someday we’ll evaporate together.”
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