‘You don’t miss your water till your well runs dry’
Aquifer, a more recent word in my vocabulary. Where I live the aquifer is permeable chalk. I imagine it laying below the surface, untouched and pure, a vast white sponge.
Later on I learn that we are causing possibly irreparable damage to the aquifer through over abstraction of water for domestic use, industry and farming.
The River Lark rises from the chalk south of Bury St Edmunds. As it reaches the town it is barely recognisable as a river, at times the bed is completely dry. The writer and wild swimmer, Roger Deakin, famously ‘sat down and wept’ at the sight of the river being ‘packaged into an outsized concrete canyon’ through the Tesco superstore, a theme revisited by Matt Gaw,
The Lark. The clue is in the name. A place that should sing and burble in flight. One of only 200 chalk streams in the world, it ought to be revered and loved, not subdued with concrete, broken by sluices and cruel flood defences. It is a source of shame or bloody well ought to be.
Matt Gaw, The Pull of the River, 2018
I look for tangible traces of the underlaying chalk but here it is overlaid with glacial boulder clay. I think about ways to reveal the semi-visible processes at work, how to follow and act with this material to better understand the chalk stream.