Friday, January 04, 2008

Rain as metaphor, and healer and math problem

Sonoma Creek from "Vella" Bridge at 2 PM

As I write this, the rains have been strong all night and are keeping up the downpour today. It feels as if the world is a very wet place, and to me, that feels as if the “holy” often missing in the “holidays” has in a way returned.

Rain can be seen, felt even, as a metaphor: watering the thirsty earth, it is a deep food for our planet and our own inner beings. Without this rain, the grass and trees would wither and die, and so would we. Rain either waters and feeds all the food we eat, or helps create the food of our food.

And our very cells, almost entirely water, hunger for water. To be healthy we need either drink good water regularly, or eat food high in water content, fruits, vegetables where nature has filled the carrot or the apple or the kale or the spinach with water, or soups and kefirs and yogurts, where the liquidness of the food is part of its ease and comfort and deep nourishment.

Our bodies are mostly water, the earth is mostly water, and at some deep level we all understand the healing gift that these heavy rains are bringing.

And then, on the another “practical” level (as if maintaining the life of our cells and our health by taking in lots of water or water rich foods isn’t “practical” enough), these rains bring snow to the Sierras, which as high mountains near a wet west coast, are the snowiest places in the world. Not the coldest. Not the highest. But the best situated to take advantage of the world’s weather moving east and the water richness of ocean based storms.

The mountains soak in the snow and our roofs push off the rain. And how much rain is falling on our roofs? Here’s the math part, and a fun game: a cubic foot of water comes to 7 and a half gallons (7.5 gallons). A cubic foot of water means one square foot at the bottom, by one foot high. So if it rains three feet of water during the winter, and we have a thousand square feet of roof, that is 3000 cubic feet of water. More math: that three thousand feet times seven and a half, comes to 24,500 gallons of water. And as the roof gets bigger, more water is coming, so that a building with a four thousand foot roof print would meet and run off almost a hundred thousand gallons of water each year (in three feet, or 36 inches, of rain).

Too much math? Go back to thinking of the earth and your cells and the oceans and organic life’s sweet and intimate relationship with water. If you can stand a little more, think about an acre. An acre, if covered with one foot of water, comes to about a third of a million cubic feet of water (also called an acre foot of water). So three feet of rain in a year on one acre comes to a million gallons of water. And so, a nine acre Plaza, or any nine acre parcel of land, receives 9 million cubic feet of water in a year of 36 inches of rain.

That’s a lot. How are we storing the Plaza’s water, and the water in our hills, and off our roofs, and that falling in our yards and gardens and streets and parking lots? That might be a good question, eh?

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