Wet. That’s the only description you can give for today.
Wet darkens the bark. Wet spangles the leaves. Wet make green persist in the deep woods, even late into autumn.
Wet, the weatherman tells us, has made September the 10th wettest in recorded history; that is, in the last century and a half. It is not the champion, but it was bucking for top honors.
Now it isn’t as if there is a deluge of rain coming down on us here. It is more like someone is shaking out sopping towels onto us all over the place. You can tell it by the expanding ringlets on pools of water. It is saying, “Just hang around out here awhile, and we will soak you good.”
Now it’s not that we mind the rain, mind you. It’s just that we humans take more of a hankering after sun than rain We invent little sayings like, “Into every life a little rain must fall,” to demonstrate our tolerance for this wet.
What do other creatures seem to be saying about this wet? I see 17 turkeys 100 yards ahead of me who don’t even seem to know they are getting wet. The wet rolls off their oiled feathers. Rain or sun, it’s just another day.
I see chickadee dash from tree to bush. He is just about business as usual.
I see red squirrel scampering up the red bark of a tree trunk. To be sure, he is a little less active than he would be on a sunny day, but he’s still out there.
Wet is more important than sun. I know, you’ll argue with me about that, but try the thought on for size for a minute.
Without wet, we die. Sun-baked planets are lifeless (apparently). Water-soaked planets are teeming with life.
Since our ancestors crawled out of the sea and shook themselves off, they declared more of a hankering after sun than wet, for their comfort. However today ecologists tell us that as our population grows, fresh water becomes not only important to us but extremely precious for our continued existence. Fortunately despite all our technical capabilities, we can’t destroy water, but we can make it extremely unpalatable, unhealthy and even death-dealing.
My family presses me on “Save the Planet” issues. I certainly don’t disagree with them, but after I have heard all they have to say, I am left asking, “All right, what then do you want me to do?”
I think it is a dilemma that stifles all of us who live far from rising oceans that would lap at our feet. Unless waters lap at my doorstep and make me homeless and even unable to sell my home because it is now worthless, I don’t understand the ecologists.
A beginning for understanding would be to sit in the deep woods for several hours each week and just let nature seep into us and speak in her own language. And let her soak us right through to the skin occasionally with wet. And let her speak to us with the cool and the damp and the sheer pleasure of moisture on our skin. And when she gives us the wet of a day, or a week, or a month, see it as a blessing.
James Alger, who lives in Fargo, N.D., has been a summer resident of the Leech Lake area with his family for over 45 years. Over that time he has grown to love and appreciate the people and the woodlands of this area.