It’s rare for me to wake up in the morning thinking about a film I saw the night before. And that has never happened to me when the co-star was a beaver—yes that rather large furry rodent that builds dams and beaver ponds. And the only top of mind film that gave a lavish role to water, was Singing in the Rain.
The movie, Water’s Way: Thinking Like a Watershed was the first shown at the Chesapeake Film Festival as it opened last Friday at The Avalon Theater. Its script writers, photographers, directors and producers are a trio of talented storytellers: Tom Horton, Sandy Cannon Brown, and Dave Harp.
Seldom has nature and nurture been so beautifully paired. The filmmakers joyfully paired their craft and passions.
Water is often thought of as a commodity. We take it for granted; it fills our day and penchant for complacency. We worry about a variety of outcomes each day, but for the most part drinkable water is not one of them. We take it for granted and rarely think about its sources. Or its complexity. Or its treatment: “water from natural sources is treated for microorganisms, bacteria, toxic chemicals, viruses and fecal matter.”
Before we humans sought to control water there were millions of beavers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that were our allies. They built their dams and ponds along the creeks and streams that fed the rivers that filled the Bay. The beavers slowed the water down and provided nature’s infrastructure that filtered out the impurities. Clarity resulted and its dependents, clams and crabs and grasses and rockfish, thrived.
Water’s Way guides us along the streams and rivers and the streets and parking lots in a beguiling narrative. The film seduces us with beauty while helping us to understand how water gets started and taking us on its natural journey that for many of us ends in the Chesapeake Bay.
We now build treatment plants and use chemicals to clean up the water that is guided by ditches and culverts that channel water that becomes one with a variety of sediments and pollutants occupying our parking lots, highways and fertilized fields, when not buffered by trees and plant life.
But let me not detract from the 45 minute movie. Water is the star and beavers are co-stars; but we, the audience, are not just passive viewers. In the end we are given a chance to star. My final thought: go to the movies or in this case to the movie which can be viewed by streaming it here.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.