‘If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water’
This weeks Lens Artists challenge comes from Tina at Travels and Trifles. She shared some fantastic shots of grizzly bears fishing for salmon in Alaska. I’ve decided to stay a little closer to home and show you a bit of our lovely stream.
Our yard slopes down to the bush then drops into the Karaponga Stream. When the kids were little the stream was their favourite playground. I could listen to their delighted squeals from up in the garden and know they were safe splashing, exploring and lathering mud on each other until they got cold and had to retreat to the sunny yard to warm up.
The water’s never adult-warm-enough, even on the hottest summer day and I’ve never been tempted to immerse myself fully. The sun can’t penetrate through the canopy of forest giants, just sitting on the bank with my feet dangling in the water is cooling enough for me.
The stream constantly hisses and burbles but we don’t hear it until visitors point the sound out. It’s part of the background, like the air we breathe. We rely on it to power our house these days. The Man of the House built a waterwheel and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week it chuffs away like a steam engine and allows me to charge my car or watch my favourite TV show.
Yesterday we had our very first autumn storm. Less than a month till the official start of winter, it’s very late but who knows what the weather’s up to these days. After a very dry summer and early autumn, the rain was very welcome. The stream had got lower than we’d ever seen it in our 25 years here. It was so low, we couldn’t even tempt the eels up to their usual feeding spot with a bit of leftover rabbit. Maybe climbing over the rocks is just too much effort.
New Zealand overflows with rivers, streams and lakes that from afar look pristine but up close you can see the detrimental impact mankind continues to have on our water quality. I met the water crusader, freshwater ecologist Dr Mike Joy some years ago at an Environmental Awards event. For twenty years he has been publicly outspoken about the decline in freshwater quality and ecosystems, especially the impact of nutrient pollution from intensive dairying on New Zealand’s “100% Pure”, clean, green image.
‘There are almost two worlds in New Zealand. There is the picture-postcard world, and then there is the reality.’
His work has led to awards from scientific organisations, as well as criticism from the dairy industry and right wingers who prioritise unrestrained economic growth over our unique environment. He bears many scars gained from the years of battle but is undeterred in the fight. When it’s safe to swim in our rivers and when the life returns, we have Mike Joy to thank.