The Gift of Water

March icicles 001Snow, ice, fog, and rain: within a week’s time, we’ll experience all of these in massive doses: March in Wisconsin. The juxtaposition of winter and spring is marked and remarkable, and painted with water in all her varied media.

Two days ago, we received 8 more inches of snow and today, icicles are melting and birds are again energetically singing their spring songs. Rain is forecast for the weekend, and snow returns on Monday. After a long season of drought last year, we’re very grateful for water in any form, as well as the music, smells, and images each form creates.

March snow 011

Titmice, snow, cats, chili, snow 008

Titmice, snow, cats, chili, snow 013

DSCF0234I’ve been contemplating the gift of water these past few weeks. Turn the handle of the faucet and out comes water fit to drink, or bathe, or clean our food, or wash our clothes. The quality and availability of fresh water is a gift to be treasured and conserved.

Our state is bordered by two Great Lakes, including Superior, the largest fresh water body on earth. Just south of Lake Superior is the Penokee Range, which runs southwest from the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan to southeast Bayfield County, Wisconsin.

A 22-mile iron ore vein runs through this range, and was mined with shaft-mines from 1868 until 1965, when they were closed, due to the advent of the cheaper open-pit mines, such as those in Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range and Michigan’s Marquette Iron Range. The competition from inexpensive foreign ores also contributed to the closing of the shaft mines. Wisconsin became, over the next several decades a leader in environmental protection, nationally and at home, creating stringent laws to ensure our precious resources would be safeguarded for generations. Or so we believed.

Titmice, snow, cats, chili, snow 002Running along the surface of the Penokee Range, for example, are lakes, trout streams and the head waters of many rivers. Downstream is the Bad River watershed and the reservation of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. The Bad River watershed contains 40% of all the wetlands in the Lake Superior watershed.

This land provides essential habitats for bald eagles, wolves, plants, songbirds, fish, and humans, and is regarded as some of the most environmentally-sensitive land in the state.

Snow-walk with Riley and Clancy 042The current Republican majority in our state government have chosen to prostitute the Penokee Range, however, selling it to Gogebic Taconite (a subsidiary of The Cline Group owned by billionaire Christopher Cline, and headquartered in Florida. His mining operations in Illinois have pillaged and polluted the land and water.)

Our noble politicians rushed a bill through the legislature, holding only one, brief, public hearing, that allows this corporation—one of the nation’s largest mining companies—almost free reign in destroying the land, the habitats, and the groundwater, so it might extract taconite, at great profit to Mr. Cline, called “New King Coal” by Bloomberg.

Long-standing and environmentally-sound mining laws have been re-written by our current legislature so Chris Cline can hurry up and start extracting taconite; he’s paid for these exemptions, after all.

I don’t know how much more abuse our mother earth can take, and it saddens me, deeply, that the state I was once so proud to call home will be complicit in her further destruction. The legislature is calling it a “job-creator,” but I’m not sure people will want to work in a place where the land and water are poisoned.

icecicle drips 056Perhaps it could be the Republican version of a tourist attraction, to replace the one they’ve destroyed. Come one; come all! See the largest open pit mine in the world!

But don’t drink the water.


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12 thoughts on “The Gift of Water

  1. Sorry to hear that you have these worries, Kitty. But am very glad that the drought is over, and that you got a lot of water this year. Let’s hope that the new year will bring many blessings.


    1. Thank you, Shimon; yes, there are still many blessings for which we’re thankful! I think our snowfall has been even a bit above average: Hooray!


  2. Everything going on these days is making me pull my hair out. It is driving me insane to watch the ongoing destruction of the planet. This is an incredibly hard time to be alive. We are here for a reason. To help save the planet. I hope more people will find the courage to stand up and do something, whether being a voice, organizing groups, making others aware. We all have our jobs, we just have to get busy doing them! So sorry to hear that is going on there. Time to move to VT 🙂 Blessings to you my friend…Much love as well….VK


    1. Thank you, VK; we’re hanging in there. These are frustrating times, to be sure, but yes, the more we can share about our world’s precious loveliness and fragile well-being, the better. VT looks so tempting, but I’d feel like I was abandoning Wisconsin…we shall see… 🙂


  3. Oh no!!!! I’m absolutely speechless. To think an eco system so beautifully balanced could be destroyed for profit…….heartbreaking does not do it justice. Is there any milage in starting a petition on twitter to prevent this?….I’ve known some petitions there to have startlingly successful results….against the odds. If you do start one I would be happy to post it to my followers on twitter and it would spread quickly……

    I can’t imagine a place that has eagles and wolves…..WOW!

    I love the pictures of the snow and icicle……it is a clash at the moment between winter and spring, it’s the same here, warmish, then back to freezing.

    I LOVE your little Angel.xxxxx


    1. I think there will be legal challenges and the need to support them financially; will see what develops. Thank you, Snow Bird. I haven’t done a thing on Twitter and confess I’m completely ignorant of how that’s done, but I have posted a lot of updates on Facebook…

      My little angel is sweet, I agree; a darling student of mine gave it to me many years ago.

      You are sweet, too; thank you for your precious heart!


  4. Unfortunately, as a group, politicians’ collective attitude toward nature is pretty much summed by Jeff Goldlum’s character in “The Big Chill” when during a walk with his friends in the country, he just stops in his tracks and stops to pee on some wild flowers. When chastised by his friends, he replies “That’s the great thing about nature: One big toilet.” This, sadly, is exactly how our “supply chain” friends in Washington think. To me Wisconsin was the paradise I never dreamed I’d see when I went to college there. I grew up in a state that had already been stripped of its natural balances, raped, plundered, used for profit margins. I can’t say how disappointed I am to follow all these stories. I once held the government in Wisconsin in the highest esteem for holding fast to the notion that nature doesn’t belong to people, particularly corporations. But then again, it’s 2013. A different world, sadly. On a positive note — Kitty — the opening photo at the top of the essay — the icicles and you’ve caught the water dropping slowly to earth – maybe the most captivating and beautiful image I’ve seen in years! Thank you!! And that sky….. sigh! I miss Wisconsin. The images of Full Moon’s ground – haunting, elegaic, and unforgettable.


  5. Thanks, Matt; always welcome your visits and comments. Yeah, Wisconsin seems quite foreign these days, but we’re hopeful the next elections, in 2014, will begin to turn it around…in the meantime, we care for our little patch as tenderly as it deserves. Very blue sky today and rain forecast for the weekend. Come for a visit in spring…or summer…or fall!


  6. So sad to hear of the lack of foresight by politicians out there. Water seems to be overlooked as a very important resource when in the decades to come, it will be the cause of wars rather than oil and minerals as the world population explodes beyond the nurturing capacity of nature. People will be fighting for clean drinking water just to be able to survive. Our leaders should try to preserve such a precious resource for the generations to come. 😉


    1. I agree, Malou; it’s an incredibly valuable and overlooked–or taken-for-granted–resource. The irony for us in Wisconsin is that we’re bordered by two Great Lakes and are the state that produced John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson, three people who were so very influential regarding the environmental movement…I do believe, however, that the people of the state are joining together, regardless of their political bent, and recognizing the very real and permanent threat these choices will create. Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your valuable comment!


      1. What these people don’t realize is that once the water source becomes contaminated, it will cost a lot to just produce clean drinking water. What comes out now cheap if not free from the tap will be replaced by processed bottled water that will drain the usual budget for basic necessities.


        1. I agree; every time I use the faucet, I’m grateful. So precious and worth protecting! It’s disappointing. When I was young, i thought “adults” were wise. Now I’m getting older and realize wisdom is a gift and must be tended; it’s certainly not conferred by age alone.


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