I’ve been chronicling my project with my wife on this blog. I’m going to write a sonnet series about the creation of California. I’m trying to tell the story of water in California, what really made it what it is. Ann’s a visual artist, so she’s going to do the graphic art work for it.
When my wife and I were in our twenties and didn't have a lot of money for entertainment, we would spend a $100 a year to get year-long passes to Disneyland. I'm not a huge fan of Disneyland, but it was a cheap way to get entertainment. We'd smuggle food in backpacks and have something to do on Saturdays and evenings. After a while however, the parks started to lose their charm. There is only so many times a person can enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean after all. It was still the cheapest entertainment around, so we kept going, but we had to change our perspective to make it interesting.
So we started to look at Disneyland from different perspectives. We checked out bird books from the library, and tried to understand their nesting habits and the lives of the feral cats who hid behind the scenes as much as they could. We discussed the art deco elements of the park and flora as well. Suddenly, we became scientists and art historians taking a look at a system that was unlike any other. Any way to resee a familiar place becomes its own fascination.
Our study of water has us seeing our world in a completely new way. At first, developing these poems was relatively easy. I wrote about rivers and the ocean, and how they interplay. But there's only so many ways that I can keep coming back to the same place. I'm looking at this city, which I have lived in now for nearly 40 years, through the lens of water.
What have I discovered?
Water flows under our feet.
Clouds are massively heavy.
The mountains are filled with caves that are full of water. This water is full of species of animals we will never see.
The politics of water is complicated.
Gutters are the world of children. Adults almost never interact with them directly.
Humans are a part of the watershed.
Water is eternal.
When you talk about water, you have to talk about salt.
California history is the history of water.
This and much more. The research is more interesting to me than I expected it to be. I knew that reading about history would be fascinating, but seeing though water has given me a new way to understand this same old place.