Years ago one of my son’s favorite books was Being Born. You know the book; the one with the incredible photographs of the developing babies floating around in embryonic fluid. Recently I found that book again and read “..then the bubble of water in which you lived popped and — WHOOSH — out came the water.” Those of us who have experienced the birth of children know that when the water breaks, a new little life is not far behind.

After finishing the book I had to do some last minute Christmas shopping, this was after the most recent rains. All along the road I kept seeing “the water breaking”. The image filled my mind. Water was spilling out everywhere, little rivulets gushing out from the hillside, down little gullies that rarely have water. A waterfall was literally jumping out of the chaparral. And I kept thinking…”the earth’s water is breaking, birth is imminent.”

And it is true. In all ways, water is life and this is particularly apparent in places where it is sporadic.
It was in the sea that life evolved. At first the minerals, nutrients, gases necessary for life simply passed directly from the ocean through the membranes of the organisms. But eventually some animals encapsulated the sea within their skins. They literally created an ocean within themselves. Fishes invaded rivers and moved far inland into fresh water and eventually became amphibians. From amphibians came reptiles, from reptiles came birds and mammals.

I saw a newt attempting to cross the road and I stopped to rescue it. As I was crossing back over the barbed wire fence, I cut myself. Not deep, but the blood was flowing. As I sucked on my hand, I tasted the salt of my own body, that ancient bloody ocean trapped so long ago. I closed my eyes and remembered another year , kissing my newborn son and tasting the salt from his recent journey. And I remembered the water breaking. Water then life. This is winter in California, this is the New Year and this is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.

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August 4, 2009