An Illustrated Celebration of the Wonder of the Water Cycle and the Interconnected Ongoingness of Life – The Marginalian
I remember when I first learned about the water cycle, about how it makes of our planet a living world and binds the fate of every molecule to that of every other. I remember feeling in my child-bones the profound interconnectedness of life as I realized I was breathing the breath of Aristotle and William Blake and Marie Curie, those exact molecules still lingering in the water vapor comprising the atmosphere that makes the whole world breathe — a living testament to Lynn Margulis’s observation that “the fact that we are connected through space and time shows that life is a unitary phenomenon.”
That wondrous interleaving of space, time, and being comes alive with uncommon sweetness in The Lost Drop (public library) by Grégoire Laforce, illustrated by Benjamin Flouw — a vibrant love letter to the water cycle as a portal to deep time and deep presence, and a subtle celebration of the ongoingness of life as a way to bear our mortal smallness in the great scheme of being.
The story, rendered with the charming feeling-tone of mid-century illustration, begins with a little drop named Flo, who falls from the sky and, upon hitting the ground, is seized with the existential question that pulsates beneath every life:
Who am I and where should I go?
She finds herself pulled by gravity down a slope and into a stream — the portion of the water cycle called runoff.
As she flows, she asks all the rocks and trees and animals nourished by the stream what her purpose might be, but they just nod and smile.
The stream pours into a lake full of prehistoric sea creatures, and still she goes on wondering about her fate. Then a waterfall leaps her into the air and plunges her into the dark depths, still and silent.
She screams her question into the silence as she drifts toward the surface, until a sudden surge of sunlight envelops her — the evaporation portion of the water cycle begins.
Flo grows smaller and smaller, then seems to become part of the light, almost vanishing into the air — “but not quite.”
Flo helped make the trees dance,
and united the breath of all living creatures,
and lifted wings into flight.
There is homecoming in the sky as the condensation part of the cycle returns Flo from vapor back to liquid, at last conferring meaning upon her existence as a unit of aliveness and a particle of time, four billion years old yet ever-new.