Water, water everywhere…

PHOTO BY TINA CLINEFELTER The Susquehanna River is seen in a tranquil mood.

And not a drop to drink, with apologies to Coleridge and his poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

Water is one of our most precious resources and it behooves us to treat it with the utmost care, but just because we have used it for a certain purpose does not mean it is lost forever; it merely joins the eternal cycle called the hydrologic cycle. The amount of water we have in this world remains constant; the earth’s surface is 75 percent water, of which 97 percent is salt water, with only 3 percent being fresh; of this two-thirds is frozen leaving us with 1 percent as potable water. Now, most of the fresh water is stored in underground aquifers (ground water) so the rest moves in a “hydrosphere” with three main processes — evaporation, condensation and precipitation to restore our 1 percent of drinking water back to its clean state.

During evaporation, water passes from a liquid state to a vapor with 90 percent of the amount in the air coming from surface water such as oceans, lakes and rivers, and 10 percent contributed by plants by a process called transpiration. Evaporation purifies water, leaving behind dirt particles and salt.

The next process, condensation, changes vapor back into a liquid to form into clouds — water condenses around minute dirt particles so rain water is not particularly “pure.” Fog forms when moist air contacts cooler air near the surface of the ground.

Precipitation comes in many forms — some more welcome than others — rain, sleet, snow, hail, and freezing rain with gravity playing a vital role in pulling the water droplets down to earth!

In a simplified nutshell this is the water cycle — pretty amazing when you think about it. Also, as the amount of water is constant, the same wet molecule that fell on the rose bush last night may have been the same molecule that fell on the roses in Good Queen Bess’ garden in the Elizabethan era. What goes around, comes around again!

In conclusion, here is some other information to add to your stash of knowledge:

A few phrases in Cockney rhyming slang:

r Apples and pears –stairs,

r Alan Whickers — knickers,

r Baked bean — Queen,

r Bees and honey — money

r Trouble and strife — wife,

r Dog and bone — phone,

r Loaf of bread — head (as in “use your loaf”),

r Septic tank — Yank,

And so on.


Tina Clinefelter is a Penn State Master Gardener emerita and has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the Points of Light Foundation. She can be reached at tina36@comcast.net.