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Odes

Ode to Irrigation

Irrigation gives us so much power over our world. It allows you to take land and bring life to it. It is a great responsibility because it is borrowing water that would otherwise go elsewhere, but it gives you the chance to bring life or even paradise to an area. Irrigation brings water to plants, and plants are really easy to make happy. I just returned to some plants that were drooping, and a small amount of irrigation has brought a huge change in the healthy appearance of the plants within a single day. Irrigation is the reason that people were able to start growing food, bringing so many great inventions to the world. It is arguably the greatest of all human achievements in my mind. It is the reason that we can live and ship food to places that would otherwise be virtually uninhabitable. Irrigation gives life to plants and animals, and the joy that they can bring to you can be well worth it. Irrigation helps the plants along and can accelerate their growth. It is the reason that some of the plants on my property are still alive and it is the reason that my property is known enthusiastically as the garden house. We use irrigation to help plants become established, but we wean the plants so that they can survive on their own. Occasionally, I will add more to save a plant that is struggling or to help plants mature more quickly, but of the more than hundred ligneous plant species on the property, at least eighty are completely self-sufficient. They have established their roots and do not need the aid of irrigation from me. Irrigation got them there, and now there are blooms, shade, and leaves that can delight in any season. Irrigation canals also have a special feeling for me. I am enchanted by the tiny, controlled streams that weave nature into society. They bring a microcosm to the area and support a whole new set of species and plants. They feel clean. I also think it is miraculous how far irrigation canals can go with very little change in elevation. We once found an abandoned irrigation canal in the mountains near Tucson and were completely confounded by the map which seemed to mark a stream that ran seven miles with less than 100 feet in elevation change. We traveled along it and found an easy trail to follow through the mountains. Trails often follow irrigation lines, and they do make terrain so much more pleasant and tame. The irrigation aqueducts of the Romans still work today, which is miraculous. They leap over valleys and walk majestically across plains. They are so precise there can be less than a foot of drop over a mile of distance, and they are able to bring water from the distant mountains into that city, potable water. The arches that support the aqueducts are beautiful and majestic to behold bringing not just life-bearing water but art and architecture to the benefit of the world as well.