The Relativity of Water

Everything is relative in landscapes and climatic conditions, and water is the key ingredient! In the last 4 weeks, I have experienced very different conditions, in desert country in northern South Australia, at a tropical lake in the hills of Shan State in Myanmar, in wintry temperate Adelaide and now green and verdant summer in Denmark.

People around me in Denmark are talking about how dry it is and how much they need some rain – it is all of 3 weeks since the last rain! I can’t see the need for rain myself, as I travel through green forests, green fields of ripening crops and gardens full of colourful summer flowers.

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At the same time, friends back home in Adelaide are complaining of rain, storms, hail and (relatively) ‘freezing’ temperatures, as the winter rains finally arrive after a very warm period during May.

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In mid-June at the beginning of the wet season in Myanmar, the air was clear, visibility was good and the countryside had a red-and-green tartan appearance, with alternating new green growth and plots of exposed red soil. The rice fields were maturing and the markets were full of fresh produce. However, the temperatures were mid 30°C and humidity >90%, with intermittent heavy showers turning the roads to mud.

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On our desert trip, we travelled 1200 km to Innamincka, with the goal of visiting Coongie Lakes which filled with water during floods in 2012. The trip was planned for more than a year, but we could not foresee a passing thunderstorm which dumped 14mm of rain on the Coongie track just 3 days before our visit. We were turned back by the mud just 30 km short of our goal. We camped on the edge of Cooper Creek at Innamincka instead, and enjoyed watching the ducks, turtles and pelicans making the most of the temporary pool. We were a few weeks too early to see the desert really blooming in response to recent rains. The young plants were there, but only a few centimetres high, and not really visible in the landscape.

No matter where I go, the conversation quickly turns to some aspect of water – too little, too much, different from the average. It determines our daily conditions.

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About redgumgirl

Dr Anne Jensen is an environmental consultant with a passionate interest in sustainable management of our natural resources, particularly the River Murray and wetland environments. She is particularly interested in using photographs and stories to explain issues around water and protecting natural ecosystems in terms that are understood by the wider community, so that we can manage our environment sustainably for our common future.
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