Taking the Long Way Home

This afternoon, errands accomplished, I decided to take the long way home, mostly to look at runoff.  It has been raining for a week; it rained for all of lunch and many of the errands, and right now, the green jungle of our side yard is dark with more rain.

So I went looking for the rivulets, runnels, and waterfalls that happen on the cliffs along Dora Highway when it rains a lot. What I found is that the world in spring is a big, green sponge.  Despite all the rain, Peak Creek isn’t even muddy, and the Trail bridge is nowhere near innundated.  Cool Spring just dribbles over the lip of its pool and trickles under the road.  All that water has been slurped up by everything from oak trees to mayapples. 

Last night, for giggles, Hank and I calculated how much an inch of rain, spread over the whole county, weighs.   Knowing that a cubic centimeter of water weighs a gram, we wound up with roughly 74,000 tons of rainfall, almost all of it apparently surging through the trunks, branches, stems of every green thing, until it respires through the leaves and the sky takes it back.

I am in a mood to be amazed by this, and by all the small things no one thinks about.  While Hank napped, I read more Janovy, and in Keith County Journal, I encountered trichodina, a one-celled, or perhaps acellular animal that lives on the gills of fish.  It looks like this: 

I have a hard time believing that something so beautiful, so fragile, so amazing and intricate, spends its life in obscurity, known only to biologists and possibly fish vets.  All that loveliness, accessible only by microscope.  Where is the sense in that?  What kind of profligate Creator sets this elaborate creation on a fish gill, gently spinning, unaware and unappreciated?  How much else is out there, unrealized, unobserved?  More than I can possibly imagine.

A fish gill is a whole ecosystem, alive with organisms that know absolutely nothing about the relentless rain, the stream’s path, and possibly even the fish.  Their world is more foreign to me than Outer Mongolia and just as inaccessible — moreso, in fact, since I do not own a microscope and have limited means of obtaining fish gills.  I am gobsmacked.  I started out looking for the flood, and wound up indoors with a single cell of amazing beauty.  I am still in the process of taking the long way home, because that, I suspect, is where all the cool stuff is.

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