By Cathy Johnson
What other element is there which is so important to life? Water is more critical to human life than food, yet many of us continue to take it for granted because we have been constantly surrounded by a seemingly endless supply of fresh water all our lives. And with our modern methods of transportation – cars, trains, airplanes – we tend to forget the importance of water in the human migrations of previous centuries.
This fall Artworks will host another exhibit from the Smithsonian, A Museum on Main Street Traveling Exhibit entitled WaterWays. For six weeks while the exhibit is here, a variety of water-related programs will be presented by Artworks and other local, water, history and conservation organizations, both at Artworks and other sites around the community. The exhibit’s goal is to help highlight for the community-at-large the importance of Michigan’s water as a natural resource to be treasured, as well as water’s historical and cultural importance in this area.
Who among us doesn’t have a water story? It could be something as individual as the first fishing trip with dad or grandpa, a memorable trip to one of the inland seas that surround our beautiful state, or the sights and sounds of a peaceful hour spent on a local pond, stream or river. Or it could be the tale of how we learned to navigate and respect the waters, whether in a canoe, kayak or pontoon, larger fishing boat, or on the Badger out in the middle of Lake Michigan.
Living in Big Rapids along the banks of the Muskegon River, we are reminded daily of our connection to water. Mecosta County has a multitude of lakes and streams whose shores draw many people to build there, just to be close to the water. We all know that the word “waterfront” in a real estate ad means “more money.” Why? What is it that makes people willing to spend that extra money to live on the water? I hope someone can put it into words.
During the coming summer months, consider your own relationship to water, whether you live on the water or not. Think about “the central nature of water in our lives,” as the exhibit describes it. Dive into water, literally and figuratively. Be cognizant of each time water touches your life during just a single day. Imagine what life would be like if you didn’t have such easy access to fresh water. Take a trip, if you can, to one of the Great Lakes that surround our state and try, just try, to calculate how much water you are looking at.