Water, water, everywhere . . .

Post 8/2023 Cornwall UK Saturday 11 March . . . Water, water, everywhere, except in Cornwall’s main reservoir, which is less than half full. Desalination offers one answer to the shortage. South West Water has plans to build two desalination plants that would provide a third of the county’s drinking water. (Desalination plants remove salt from sea water to produce clean drinking water).

The water conundrum reminds me of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The poem was published in 1798. It recounts the tragedy that followed from the mariner using his crossbow to kill the albatross that had brought them good luck in freeing their ship from a frozen sea.

Surely the death of the albatross would put an end to the remaining fog and mist, the mariner reasoned, and the ship could speed up its voyage home from Antarctica. Not so. The winds stopped. The ship went nowhere. The supply of water and food dwindled. The sailors demanded the mariner wear the albatross around his neck, in lieu of a cross. Could this man atone for his physical and spiritual wrongdoing?

Look up the poem, if interested. I’ll only quote a few lines from the text of 1834.

Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.

This week

More on water woes

Cornwall has 800-odd miles of coastline. The county has been under a hosepipe ban for some time. That means you can water a garden with a watering can, not a sprinkler. One also sees a good number of dust and dirt encrusted vehicles.

A feature in The Guardian noted, ‘Very precarious’: Europe faces a growing water crisis as winter drought worsens (4 March 2023).

A few excerpts: “After its driest summer in 500 years, much of Europe is in the grip of a winter drought driven by climate breakdown that is prompting growing concern among governments over the water security for homes, farmers, and factories across the continent.”

More: “The World Weather Attribution service said last year northern hemisphere drought was at least 20 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, warning that such extreme periods would become increasingly common with global heating.”

Measures to combate the precariousness include modernizing agricultural irrigation, boosting wastewater recycling, reducing losses due to leakage, flood-risk management (what’s needed are gentle rains, not floods) –and desalination.

A touch of levity and human interest

This cartoon, from Straw Hat Parrots, may be an old one. I just came across it this week. A man comments to his wife, “WHY IS THE ELECTRIC BILL SO HIGH?

Frame 2 has the answer. A caged parrot speaks: ALEXA, TURN ON THE LIGHTS . . . ALEXA, TURN ON THE TV . . . ALEXA, TURN ON THE MUSIC. ALEXA . . ..

One person commented, “Alexa, pay the bill.”

A bus driver on her first day of work had an unusual rider. Here’s an account from the i newspaper (4 March), by reporter Enan O’Byrne Mulligan:

“A bus driver’s first day on the job took an unlikely turn when she rescued a sheep from a busy dual carriageway.

“Martine Patey, a rail replacement driver, spotted the animal ‘causing havoc for passing cars’ and ‘running all over the road’ on the A27 near Brighton as she took passengers to Eastbourne.

“Two motorists helped Ms Patey to guide the sheep on board for a brief journey to the nearest farm. ‘It was difficut to catch, but then it slipped just in front of me and I was able to get hold of it and to use my handbag strap like a lasso,’ she said.

“‘Two other motorists had stopped to help and together we were able to hold onto it until the police arrived.’

“Following the additional stop, the bus continued on its journey to Eastbourne, arriving just one minute late.”

Alfred Wallis, mariner and folk artist

Alfred Wallis in late life became a folk artist in St Ives. Potter Bernard Leach created the tiles for Wallis’ burial plot.

Our week has included rain and wind. That means we’re getting our raingear out, even as we spend more time indoors. It would be counterproductive to bemoan the elements that can dampen one’s mood–rain, snow and sleet in particular. Water symbolizes cleansing or healing. Rebirth. A symbol of life, purification, hope. It behooves us to save water and use it efficiently. It’s okay to get wet from time to time, I dryly interject.


4 thoughts on “Water, water, everywhere . . .

  1. Here in Ontario it is snow, snow, snow everywhere. Had another downfall of snow a few days ago to welcome spring soon. I can feel a difference in the air though and the sky. So nice you can walk by the seashore and coastline.


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