Puddle

posted 22 August 2005

A rainy afternoon in late summer in Britain is a watery symphony. Rain drizzles from the sky, running in rivulets down the windows of train, trickling along gutters, pooling in every crack and uneven paving-stone, puddling at street corners, and glistening off of every surface.

At no time I can think of is it more obvious that the earth is a bizarre abberration of a planet, the result of endless cosmic coin-tossing that has finally produced a big wet rock, covered mainly but not entirely in water, a bizarre substance that disobeys usual physical rules*, while allowing big chunks of solid rock to poke through the liquid blanket that covers most of the planet, which has risen and fallen as ice ages and periods of global warming have come and go, without ever rising high enough to cover it all.

All human existence, all land-based life is a result of this phenomenally unlikely arrangement. Moss, plants, trees, all animals are bags of mostly water held up by trace amounts of more solid materials. We are merely the interesting foam on the surface of a puddle, clinging to the surface of our damp rock as it swings through space around a giant furnace, close enough to stop the water from freezing but far enough to prevent it remaining permanently as vapour.

We should probably remember this more often than we do.

Watching: Family Guy, again
Wondering: Why there isn't a huge gas explosion every time a house burns down in Britain
Finding: New and interesting ways to cook instapasta (fried in olive oil with chinese 5-spice season makes it taste like won-tons. Amazing!)

* unlike nearly all other molecules, water in its solid form (ice) is lighter than its liquid form. This property is essential to a lot of life in temperate climates, since it allows lakes and ponds to freeze over in winter, insulating the life below and allowing it to re-emerge in spring.

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