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Morgan: Listen to the water
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We make a mistake whenever we believe weather forecasters, don't we? At least that's my opinion. Most of them lost credibility with me a long time ago. The promise of a deluge of rainfall here over the long weekend evaporated like a drop of water on a hot stove. The beloved columnist Lewis Grizzard famously discounted meteorologists and wrote that he knew more about the day's weather just by holding his finger in the air.

Georgia is in a painful drought particularly in the south, but at least we're not Texas where protracted drought has caused the earth to crack and cattle farmers to sell off their herds. Around here, lawns are crunchy, shrubs are giving up hope and many trees are in foliage die-off, indicating severe stress on their systems. Creeks and ponds are at low ebb, as is Lake Lanier, source of most of Atlanta's water needs.

Water - or the lack thereof - has been on my mind a lot these days. Did you know that 97 percent of the world's water is salty or undrinkable? Some two percent is stored in icecaps or glaciers, leaving only one percent of water in the world available for all of mankind's needs. Each person in the U.S. uses between 50-100 gallons of water a day - somebody's taking some long, long showers. Actually, flushing the toilet amounts to most of our personal water usage. About 80 percent of water used in the U.S. goes for irrigation and thermoelectric power. And all the water existing in the world today is the same water that existed at the time of the earth's formation. A dinosaur might have drunk exactly the same water that comes out of your kitchen faucet.

Water, of course, is not just a benign substance. Think of the damage that it can do when unleashed in storms, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis and when set in motion by earthquakes. Lives upended by massive flooding two years ago on the western fringes of Atlanta are still upended. Fear remains in its wake.

A few years back, a fascinating little book came to my attention called "The Hidden Messages in Water" written by a Japanese researcher Dr. Masaru Emoto. He found his life's work when one day he read a simple statement that we've all known since elementary school: No two snowflakes are alike. This time, he wrote, his heart was open to a deeper meaning of that reality. Snowflakes exist individually for only a couple of seconds, so it occurred to him to freeze water and try to get photographs of the resulting crystals. It was a difficult proposition because the frozen crystals themselves appeared for only 20-30 seconds before they began to melt.

He found that water from unimpeachably natural sources formed perfect crystals, all different, but water from polluted lakes produced deformed crystals or none at all. "The water of Tokyo," he wrote, "was a disaster." Not a single complete crystal was formed, something he attributed to the chlorine in the water that decimated the natural structure of water. Such was the discovery that the very basic elements of water were changed or impacted by the conditions under which they existed.

On pure whim, Dr. Emoto's research assistant wondered aloud if different types of music might affect the structure of water. They filled bottles with distilled water, placing them between speakers at a sound level a person might enjoy. Classical music by the likes of Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven produced beautiful and distinct formations in the crystals. But heavy metal music resulted in "fragmented and malformed crystals at best." See, Mamma was right.

Going one step further, Dr. Emoto tried wrapping water bottles with various words such as "thank you" or "fool." "It didn't seem logical for water to read the writing, understand the meaning, and change its form accordingly," he wrote. "But I knew from the experiment with music that strange things could happen." The water wrapped in the words "thank you" formed perfect hexagonal crystals, but water exposed to the word "fool" resulted in crystals similar to water exposed to violent heavy metal music.

"I particularly remember one photograph," he wrote. "It was the most beautiful and delicate crystal that I had so far seen - formed by being exposed to the words ‘love and gratitude.' It was as if the water had rejoiced and celebrated by creating a flower in bloom. It was so beautiful that I can say that it actually changed my life from that moment on. Water had taught me the delicacy of the human soul, and the impact that love and gratitude can have on the world." Listen to the water.

Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. She chairs the Newton Advisory Committee.