The Happy Hydrophilic

Victory Bog in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

Many of my childhood days were spent playing in a small, murky pond down the hill from our house where throughout spring and into summer, I would watch the frog eggs change into tadpoles, eventually becoming the very same frogs that dove into the mud much faster than the speed of my hands reaching out to grab them.  I spent hours upon hours tromping through the swampy ground that was my parent’s property, following small streams through the wetland, loving the squishy feeling beneath my feet and sucking sounds of my shoes as I sunk up to my ankles in blackish mud.

My favorite water adventure was on a school field trip where we visited a bog in northeastern Vermont and I saw for the first time massive amounts of the clearest water I’d ever seen flowing between tussocks of vegetation.  It was my parents’ swamp on steroids!  Twenty-three year later I still dream of that place alive with an array of water-loving grasses and sedges, the cool water weaving it’s way among them in search of somewhere else to go.

Cranberry leaves in fall at a bog near Saratoga, NY. Photo by

I currently live in a part of the country where water is not so plentiful, and I embrace every rain drop and snowflake that falls from this big blue sky above me.  I find myself drawn to the banks of rivers where I explore the shores for signs of beaver or muskrat, turn over rocks in search of segmented little invertebrates, and check deep pools for fish that disappear as my shadow falls on the water above them.  I listen to the water washing across and around rocks, transporting soil to another place; I watch ducks and fallen leaves hitching a ride on the flow, headed downstream on a journey to an unknown place; I feel the gentle breeze and cool air on my skin, cooling and calming me.

I need water, not just to satisfy my senses and refresh my mind, but to live.  Your body is literally made up of nearly 80% water, which could be one explanation for the draw to it.  Water is so important to proper body function that the Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly 13 cups a day, and for women is about 9 cups a day (

Crab on beach in the Netherlands. Photo from

I used to believe (perhaps a bit naively) that my attraction to water is because my astrological sign is Cancer, represented by the crab.  Daydreaming that I was a crab crawling around on the bottom of the ocean floor in search of treasures, I would kick up sand, turn over shells, and pick apart mats of seaweed.  I longed to be carried away by a current, to pop up out of the water to discover that I was at a new and exciting place, where I would crawl up the beach to check out my unfamiliar surroundings.  Maybe my affinity to water is due in part to this but I suspect the biological piece is slightly greater.

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