By Audrey Matusich
Over the years, the “What’s in your Watershed?” segment of this newsletter has featured many incredible plant, animal, and even fungi species. This segment has been dedicated to sharing stories of animal encounters in our watersheds, as well as providing facts about each highlighted species and its role in its relative habitat. Now that November is here, a month of gratitude and giving, I thought it would be fitting to reflect and give thanks to the one thing that all watersheds have in common…water!
Living on the “blue planet,” water makes up a majority of the earth’s surface and is a necessity for all life. As a self-proclaimed land mermaid, I have always felt a strong connection to water, never missing an opportunity to spend a day near a body of water, whether it’s a river, lake, or ocean. My experiences with water have shaped who I am, and water has come to mean so many different things to me. Below are just a few:
Water is Tranquil. Growing up, I used to have trouble sleeping, my mind always holding on to a million thoughts. One of the only things that helped me relax was playing music infused with the sounds of nature. I found it particularly calming to listen to the many sounds of water, such as rain, babbling brooks, or soft waves of the ocean. As an adult, I continue to seek out water for a sense of ease and tranquility. During the pandemic, when the stress of uncertainty became overwhelming, hiking and safely spending time outdoors became therapeutic. I would often find my way to the ocean or a lake, feeling immediate comfort. One such trip was to Lassen National Park, where my friend and I spent a warm afternoon walking around a tranquil lake and admiring the reflection of the mountains painted on the water, as is pictured below.
Water is Powerful. While I often associate water with a sense of peace, I also recognize the incredible power that water has. I have been knocked down by countless waves over the years, tumbling in the sand and often swallowing gulps of saltwater.
Water has the ability to shape landscapes, making incredible rock formations and even mountains. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland (pictured below). These cliffs are a sight to behold, shaped by the ocean. Another reason I associate the word power with water is because of the strength I pull from water. As a child, I have never “felt stronger” than when I was carrying something or someone in the water. I suddenly felt like Wonder Woman, lifting my brothers with ease while on land, I would have struggled. And while I have learned the science behind this seemingly superhuman strength as I got older, those feelings of strength and power that water gifted me still remain.
Water is Joyful. In my mind, water is synonymous with unbridled joy. A majority of my fondest memories involve water. As a child, my family would always spend a week in Lake Tahoe, a trip I looked forward to for the entire year. I couldn’t wait to dip my toes into the crystal blue water. I have had many adventures connected to water, such as hiking to beautiful waterfalls, scuba diving in a coral reef, kayaking and rafting down rivers, and morning walks on the beach with my dog (pictured below). Water, especially the ocean, has brought me so much happiness throughout my life that I decided to pursue a career in which I could share this passion about water with others and help protect the bodies of water around me.
Water Sustains Life. Simply put, no life could exist on earth without water. Water allows plants to grow. Water nourishes animals and allows them to live across the planet. Water is the key to human survival. People learn from a very young age that water is a necessity of life; yet corporations and wealthy nations continue to pollute and waste water around the world. When each of us think about water and what it means to us, water is sure to have different meanings to different people. However, we can all agree that water sustains life; therefore it is critical that we conserve water so that all life may thrive. Water is the way!