March’s arrival brings more daylight, warmer temperatures, and much change to my Southwestern Pennsylvania home. The sun peeks over the horizon at dawn arrayed in bold colors amid the crisp air. Birds call out, breaking the silence across the landscape. As the sun rises and warms the air, white snowbanks slowly melt into little rivers carving their way across the ground. At night, the temperatures drop, freezing the little rivers into rippled ice. Each day brings more thawing and less freezing as the temperatures rise.
The Water Cycle
The cycle of freezing and thawing goes on as March passes by until the snow is gone and the rivers have dried up from the sun’s rays and the wind’s evaporation. Seeing this freezing and thawing makes me think about nature’s changes and how much we can learn from the process called the water cycle, also called the hydrologic cycle.
Water in itself is unique, for it exists in solid (ice), liquid, and vapor form. The temperature of the water molecules determine its state and how it reacts in its surroundings. Adding heat to ice turns it into liquid. Adding more heat to the liquid turns it into a vapor. Cooling the vapor turns it into ice crystals or snow as shown in the graphic below.
Timing the Water Cycle
The time frame of the water cycle often depends upon the weather. My March observations illustrate how short the water cycle may be. At other times of the year, the process may take longer to complete, like when the water in April, May, and June rains slowly evaporates in the July, August, and September sun, then returns to ice in the October through March frost and snow. Though the cycle is periodic, or recurring at given intervals, to a degree, it has no predictable time frame.
As an avid runner, biker, and walker, my activities are sometimes hampered by water’s form. Though I do run and bike in the rain, I draw the line when the ground is icy. Sometimes I feel like a duck or a penguin, soaking wet or shivering after my run or bike ride, but I also feel refreshed and ready to handle life.
There is something about running in the rain or falling snow that brings a bit of wonder to my mind, and I often get lost in thought. I call this my own version of the water cycle, for the thoughts in my mind (liquid) become words on a page (solid) which turn into lessons learned and shared (vapor).
Water, Water Everywhere in Every Form
Though I do not live in the ocean, I am surrounded by water in its different forms. From morning dew drops to rain, and night fog to snow, water is around me, helping to sustain my existence and quench my thirst for knowledge.