Observe ice and water, and the glyphs left in their wake. Liquid, gas, or solid, transient or timeless, water vitalizes more than the food chain. 

In its downstream courses, water’s passage recalibrates vision. A discerning eye perceives layers in the hydraulics. Its contours animate shape, line and curve. When transparent it burnishes surfaces, becoming a mirror reflecting its environment. Wind adds a shimmer that dances from glass to granite.

Water drives weather, moves mountains, feeds crops, and provides cultural and commercial access. When it’s healthy and plentiful, the biosphere and its communities prosper. For those who pay attention, it fuels imaginations as it lubricates the poet’s voice. Water’s manifold capacity, along with evidence of climate change, elevates its central role in our lives.

A project cataloging its aesthetic features involves a 70-square-mile boreal forest watershed. Southwest of Fairbanks, the area is centered on Ester Dome (elev. 2,400 ft.), an upland prominence, and part of the Yukon-Tanana Terrane. Ester Dome’s watershed is 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle. It is not uncommon to record minus 40 F in January and 95 F in July. The region is semiarid, with about 10 inches of rain per year. Annual snowfall totals 50-70 inches.

Tracking creeks across seasons, from riffle to torrent to frozen cataract, presents discoveries reflecting their origins. Wild and disorderly, pregnant with complexity and emotion. Isolated in the camera, a transect yields images thick with metaphor, ambiguity and humor. Discovering significance in the ordinary integrates awareness and expands gratitude, a synthesis of wordless recognition. Uncoiling visual experience, it confirms perception feeds a reciprocating circuit, heart and eye.

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