|No water around here...|
The Secret Knowledge of Water; Discovering the Essence of the American Desert, by Craig Childs.
I have always loved to read. When I was a child I read anything and everything and carried home armloads of books from the library. When I finished with those, my mom would hand me some of the books she used in her classroom. The books I read in those days always stayed with me, unlike some of the books I read now, and then accidentally re-read, having forgotten them!
There was a book, Our California Home,* used back then in California fourth-grade classrooms, that absolutely enchanted me. It presented the history of the state through its use and control of water. I never forgot the opening chapter, where a thirsty child on a hot summer night went into a bathroom gleaming with chrome and porcelain to get a drink of cold, sparkling water. After slaking her thirst, she let the water run over her hands and arms. It turns out that my childhood imagination embellished the memory, as when I went back to read the book again (that good Beez found me a copy on Alibris) the hot summer night scene was much smaller and less significant than I remembered it.
I have just finished the book, The Secret Knowledge of Water, and it was another beautiful experience. Childs shows us how desert lands are defined by water, rather than by their lack of it. He introduces us to hidden desert waters, fearsome floods, and to tiny springs that disappear underground during the heat of the day, only to reappear at night, fish and all. I loved this book so much that, when it was over, I read every single item in the pages-long bibliography; marveling that I had learned a bit about desert hydrology, hyporheic invertebrate assemblage, and geomorphology.
And I had loved every bit of it. Read this book and you will never see deserts in quite the same way again. I know that sounds trite, but it's all I can tell you.
*Our California Home, by Irmagarde Richards. California State Series, Sacramento, 1933.