The Ballad of a Raindrop: The Rise and Fall of Water

I am visiting my parents in Cincinnati this weekend. And it is raining. Not too upset though. I hear it is suppose to be snowing in Cleveland… again.

While the rain keeps me from the garden, I don’t mind it so much. This is all part of that April showers resulting in May flowers thing. I am a gardener. I am patient. I can wait a good long time if it means I will get flowers eventually.

Besides that, rain is a great vehicle for my imagination on account that, chances are, those little drops of rain have been to all the exotic locals that I plan on vacationing in when I no longer have children under the age of 18. Not only that, but that rain that is falling outside may very well have fallen on dinosaurs, knights in shining armor (well maybe not-so-shiny armor if rain was falling on them) and Antonio Banderas. Makes great fodder for the imagination (but don’t tell my husband that) .

You see, while you can break water into its smallest non-water parts (that’s hydrogen and oxygen for those of you who didn’t make that cut on the casting call for “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?“) and we can combine those same parts to make water, for the most part, that chemical process does not happen in nature.

Nature would much rather use the environmental mantra – “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle“. Better known to scientific types as the hydrologic cycle.

At the beginning of this cycle you will find gas or vapor. Water is brought up into the atmosphere in the form of vapor or itsy-bitsy water droplets. Some of the vapor occurs when water evaporates.

But evaporation is not the only way that water turns into vapor. Plants (like those in your garden) and animals (like you) transpire or give off water vapor. This gets added to the atmosphere as well.

After the water vapor gets in the air, it gets really lonely. Think about it, if you were in a tightly packed party like an ocean and suddenly found yourself all alone, wouldn’t you be lonely? Wouldn’t you go looking for another party? That’s what water vapor does too.

Water vapor droplets start to pack together to make soft, cushy beds for angels called clouds. These clouds get pushed out over the world by the wind. In the mean time, more and more water vapor is showing up for the latest cloud party. And eventually, like most parties where bodies get tightly packed and there is no chaperon, the water vapor starts combining. Eventually such an orgy of water vapor happens that the angel on the cloud gets disgusted and kicks the lot out of the cloud party…. Or the water vapor, now droplet, gets too heavy and gravity takes over. Whichever idea you feel is more entertaining.

Then down comes the rain. Depending where that cloud was when the party got too wild will determine what happens to the rain next. If it falls over mountains, it might turn to ice. Over the ocean and it becomes part of the waves. Over my parent’s garden and I am stuck indoors for the day.

Then the whole thing starts all over again. Now, there are variations. The vapor could combine to make snow or hail or condensation. It could freeze, percolate down into the ground or get drank by an animal. Lots of little bumps in the road could happen that vary this process, which is good because the water on this planet has been going through this process for literally hundreds of millions of years. Doing the same thing every time could get a little boring for the water on this planet.

But there you have it, the dramatic and gripping ballad of the rise and fall of water. As I never like to see the fall of anything, I really wish water would stop falling here so I could go outside and get some sun.

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