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The Calming Effect Of Water

We have lived on the lake now for over 20 years. It is still hard for me to describe what it is like, but the word “calming” may be best.

Of course, the lake is not always calm. Sometimes, when the winds come and are strong, the waves can wash out your dock. Water is not always your friend. Just ask a mountain where every day the effects of rain and erosion continue to sweep its soil and rock downhill.

Yet, human beings over the centuries have been drawn to the water. Allusions go back to Biblical times: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” There is a yearning to be around water.

I recall many times on canoe trips in Canada trying to find campsites along the rapids of a river. The constant sound of the rush of water helped put you to sleep. It connected you to the earth; it was inspiring to see the white water rushing over the rocks.

I was fortunate in my life to have been appointed to a committee responsible for the site and design of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Early on, it was clear that an effort would be made to include fountains and waterworks as a part of that Memorial. Today, a waterfall comes from the reflecting pool and fountains adorn the north and south entrances and those in the Rainbow Pool, which weren’t working, have been restored. You can stand in the plaza of that Memorial within a “stone’s throw” of the busy traffic of 17th Street, and hear no street noise… only the sound of fountains and falling water. It makes you want to be there.

The other night, at dusk, I was sitting, looking out over the lake as I usually do. There was very little wind, but just enough to make small ripples across the entire surface. There was no boat traffic and so no interruption of the surface by a man-made wake … not even the smaller riffles made when a duck takes off from the water. It was just one, broad panorama of sameness with only slight movement and just enough relief to create a palate of water which, if I were a painter, would have filled half a canvas. I thought that in the whole world, there was no place I would rather be.

I was in the Navy and I can still visualize the sea when it was violent and you had to hang on to bulkheads and rails as the ship pitched and rolled. But, my most vivid shipboard memory was one day steaming late in the afternoon off the coast of China on a glass sea when the ocean was absolutely calm, the sun was going down and on the horizon was one lone Chinese junk drifting with its ribbed sail outlined in the sunset. It was one of the calmest moments I can ever remember.

I grew up on a farm and did not see the lake much in those days. However, we had a creek to go to where the kids could go skinny dipping, or fish or search for crabs under the rocks. The water drew us there, and we never wanted to leave when it was time to go home.

So, my advice would be that if you have had a bad day, or even a mediocre day and want to unwind and “calm” yourself down … find some water, the medium that always seeks its own level. It will help you see the big picture, the beautiful picture, help you find your own level and make you grateful you are standing there looking at it and listening to it.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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