Florida Aquifer Offering

Gainesville, Florida, United States—Alachua Sink, Florida Aquifer—Shea Armstrong and Katie Malachowski

Gainesville, Florida, United States—Alachua Sink, Florida Aquifer—Shea Armstrong and Katie Malachowski

For this year’s Earth Exchange we met at the Alachua Sink—a large sinkhole that is a window into the Florida Aquifer.  For years storm water, agricultural runoff, and other waste water was directly channeled into the sink, into our drinking water. The wise and caring people of Gainesville set about restoring the hydrology of water cycle in this area and for many years the Alachua Sink has been in recovery mode.

Katie and I met and talked about the aquifer and what it means to each of us, how precious and rare of a entity it is on earth. We recognized that although Alachua Sink is in recovery it is but one “window” into the aquifer and that many other sinks, springs, and rivers directly linked to the aquifer are still contaminated and over-consumed. One challenge is recognizing the wound at all. The waters are clear and seem to be amply flowing, but pollutants such as nitrates and phosphates are invisible to the naked eye. As Katie said, “just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t wounded”.

We then walked the land alone and gathered material for our bird, collecting each piece with the intention to gift beauty and love into our bird. As we walked we startled a mother Moorhen away from her young ones. They stood at the water’s edge crying for mom and then an alligator rose from below and made it’s way toward the chicks. We both stood in silence, each wishing that the alligator would change course and not make the chicks its next meal. And so it was.

As we finished the bird we sat and sent our kindness and beauty to the aquifer. I prayed that, like the alligator, humans will modify our course and relate differently to the Aquifer and all water on the planet. Katie stood as witness to all the damage being done and was grateful to be a part of bringing beauty to the earth. As a fellow endangered species biologists, she wished she had known about this practice long ago.

We walked away discussing how bearing witness and making beauty is not reserved for an annual gathering. What is so special about this practice is it can be done anytime, anywhere. Everything we need is always with us.