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  • Writer's pictureAmanda

Water in All Its Forms

Updated: Feb 18, 2023

First post in the new miniseries "Water in All its Forms". It's my favorite element, being a Pisces and all. Maybe water's most fascinating property is its ability to take on so many forms, each form coming with its own set of properties. Here it is in one of its more relatable forms--a slow and gentle rain that penetrates every opening in your outer layer, and drips off every leaf and berry.

Water in the form of gentle rain
Water in the form of gentle rain

Part 2 in "Water"... "Where's the water here?", you might ask. It's been sitting up there in the sky all afternoon, in a bat-shaped cloud, with the sun looking a lot like a baseball. Funny thing, in this set up the ball is powering things instead of the bat. It's vaporized the water, lifted it up, and parked it there in a mass of tiny droplets. The cloud is shaped by some crazy turbulent winds that blow on by, but it-- a standing lenticular altocumulus to be precise-- stays put. Naturally, the sun is ultimately responsible for making those winds blow. And if you look closely, you can see the wisps of California wildfire smoke wafting in on the lower level winds, their tiny particles standing by, ready for vapor to condense around them too.

Water in the form of a cloud
Water in the form of a cloud

Part 3 in Water in ALL its Forms. New take on old subject matter--the hydrologic cycle we learned back in 4th grade. That rock is Black Canyon gneiss, hard as can be, but the inexorable power of water, gravity, and other rocks has worn this deep notch down through it. 24-7, water and its bedload of sand, gravel and boulders keeps sawing away, evaporating upward, and coming back down in a cycle that's plain as day when you're standing next to it. Anything but boring!

Part 4 in "Water in All its Forms". Wondering what this is? Think of something that "rimes" with water... and it's not hotter, it is actually much colder. Rime ice is supercooled water droplets that speed freeze onto solid surfaces, straight out of the enveloping cloud. Usually on the windward side, the rime ice on this bristlecone pine growing high on Monarch Pass tells a puzzling tale. Why aren't those crystals on the west sides of the trees? Maybe the errant fall storm brought circling winds that shot through the pass backwards. We'll never know, because this, like so many forms of water, is ephemeral and always changing.

Part 5 in "Water in All Its Forms" miniseries. Had to wait for it to finally snow here in Western Colorado to get a shot of water in this semi-solid form. We all know about the perfect little hexagonal ice crystals that are snowflakes, but their formation is another story. How they form around a piece of dust up there in the cloud, adding on super-cooled water droplets and growing into something heavy enough to fall. Then the add-ons that happen as they pass through more moisture before touching down. And what about that blue color? It's not your imagination, it really is the crystals trapping all the yellow and red wavelengths as light bounces through the snowpack, letting nothing but blue light out. It'is nothing short of magical!

Part 6, wrapping up the water miniseries:

After looking through some recent photos for this post, I realized it should have been titled: "Water in SOME of its forms". There were so many good candidates to include--a foggy day in the sandstone wonderlands of McInnis Canyons. The shimmering golden ripples of a Sierra lake. I even thought about trying to get a shot of a deer urinating, or a dripping nose to show the water we and all creatures carry around inside of us, and constantly let loose. But instead, I settled on this shot of water still as glass, briefly detained in a rock pool before evaporating away. Or maybe its fate was to be sucked up by deer, rabbits, and tree roots. Possibly it could have seeped into the rock's cracks and slowly make its way down into the sandstone aquifer. Not to mention where that water might have gone the next day or week: the clouds, raindrops, rivers, snowflakes and ice it might have become.

So many alternative states of being for water, and so interchangeable. As always, once Nature has her way, things get complex and beautiful. So much more interesting than just solid, liquid or gas!


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