Jun 4, 2011

Hydrologic miner in the swamp

Where then does the term watershed moment come from?

After all, nobody ever says catchment or basin moment instead.

Watershed lines are hard to delineate in the swamp ...

The terms watershed, basin, and catchment are all used to describe the area of land in which rain or snowmelt discharges to a single point, or as is the case of the Big Cypress Swamp, a single stretch of coastline. The special status of the term watershed in the metaphorical sense comes from its erstwhile use as the line in the sand that separates two basins.


A watershed moment has a Eureka quality to it that hits you out of nowhere but infuses you in an instant with a completely and utterly revolutionary view on events or an issue or how things interconnect. Call it no coincidence that people often experience Eureka moments during a morning shower when, importantly, water is pelting them in the face!

Okay, maybe I’m stretching the meaning a bit.

Except where elevated roadbeds make them easy to see

And what wild-eyed wildcat miner worth his weight in salt, cannot recall a time in the past or drum up in the chest a hope that a future path awaits in which their arduously but rhythmically toil into terra incognita among the high mountain passes will reward them in a infinitesimal of a second too random to even predict other than a glimpse of a glimmer through a corner of an eye, or an unexplainable hunch that turns them down the ancient ruins of a forgotten trail:

“Gold!”— as in Eureka –

Or do I mean water, as in a new watershed line?


As a hydrologist I’m usually happy with a liquid find.

3 comments:

Janie said...

I never thought about the derivation of the term "watershed moment" before. Fascinating. Most people would prefer the path/watershed direction leading to gold. But I'm not surprised you would prefer finding water at the end of your road.

Tabor said...

Very interesting in this light!

Robert V. Sobczak said...

This thought struck me out of nowhere. Good to get to the bottom of things. Eureka moments are like that. You've got to strike them while the iron is hot (and all the cliches.)