Water Molecules


(Edited September 5th, 2018)

Bands of water molecules fall from the sky, reminding me of a year when a hurricane made landfall with large bands of showers flooding areas as far north as where I live. Of course these bands don’t have anywhere near that kind of rainfall, or wind, or the associated hurricane for that matter — just long streaks of clouds with passing showers that come and go within an overcast sky, steadily increasing as the day wears on.

I’ve been back from Houston for several weeks, thinking daily about time (life-wise) and outer space (NASA-wise), when it is perhaps inner space that I should be concentrating on.

Writing continues at a snail’s pace, disrupted more so this morning by a velvet tail rattlesnake coiled up on the outside of the threshold of the back door: an unpleasant surprise to what was an already slow start. However, the squirrel tossing pinecones out of a pine tree did break the seriousness of the morning surprise.

I spent part of yesterday visiting a cemetery. The person for whom the county I live in was named was buried there in the 1800s. One gravestone represented someone’s name who had a birthdate of 1815, the year a burned Library of Congress was reestablished with Jefferson’s collection of books. This was also the year when Napoleon was making headlines, the first commercial cheese factory was established in Switzerland, the first natural gas well was discovered in the U.S., the year the War of 1812 (thought to be over at the end of 1814) continued briefly, and the year when Robert Fulton, who built a submarine name Nautilus in 1800, died. (Edit: It would be over 70 years before Jules Verne would publish 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with a fictional submarine named Nautilus.) What times some of the people buried here lived in.

One of the problems with being young is how distant a couple of hundred years seems. A problem with getting older is realizing how not so long ago a few hundred years ago can be; my Grandfather was born in 1900, after all. When I think about the fact that I once spent weekends with a man born 118 years ago — words escape me.

No, a few hundred years ago doesn’t seem so long ago now, even less so were I a geologist, astrophysicist, or the like. Our time here in years can seem kind of irrelevant compared to the zeros on the end of those studied timescales.

A lot has changed since 1815, 1900, and since I was born. In my short time here I’ve seen so much but I have to wonder: what do you think those water molecules have seen?