The Weight of Water


I grew up in a city that was built around a river,that is famous for it’s locks, that was flooded by a creek, and that is perched on the cusp of a wilderness of lakes.

As kids we ran through the sprinkler for hours on the hottest of days and flooded the backyard for a massive ice rink in the dead of winter. We let the water run while we brushed our teeth. We flushed toilets with abandon and showered for as long, and as often, as we pleased.

We knew no limit to what flowed from our many taps. We were water rich. It was weightless and we were drowning (swimming) in it.


I live half of my year in a half-built house in rural Australia with my love. Our home is a quiet, off-grid design that is being made out of storied parts and salvaged supplies, built by our own two hands. For the last 4 years, every drop of water we have required has had to come from the sky. The only tap we have is at the base of a rain tank. Our two tanks are connected to our two roofs by a series of gutters and pipes. Every drop of rain that hits our steel ceiling finds it’s way into our holding tank. One day those tanks will feed into more pipes that will funnel into our finished house. One day there will be taps and sinks, even a bath. But always the water that flows from them will come from those two tanks, those two roofs, that one sky. But for right now, every bit of water we use needs to be carried – from the tank, up the hill, to the kettle, the dish pan, the wash tub. We feel its’ heaviness every time we use it. The weight of our water is teaching us its’ value.


My hometown is not far from the shore of great Lake Ontario. Forty minutes of driving can have me standing eye-to-eye with the waters edge. Smokestacks and seagulls and Canadian geese are ever in the periphery, but if I position myself just right then I can look out and see nothing but wet horizon. Those shores have saved me many times on days when the world felt too big, the questions too heavy. The gift of big water is the chance to feel small in its’ presence. I can stand there and look out as far as my eyes can see and still not find the end. It’s the sound of waves lapping, a music that resonates deep in my bones. It’s a body to throw stones at without causing harm. It’s a void to yell into when I need the strength of my own voice more than I need to be listened to. Big water is a humbling force that proves strong enough to carry the weight of whatever I need to unload.


It started raining on my caravan roof while I’ve been writing this. Not a heavy rain, just a light spattering that will likely evaporate as soon as it hits this sun-baked ground. It is easy to recognize the sound of rushing waterfalls or crashing waves. The force of water can be deafening. But even tonights’ small, seemingly insignificant rain drops held a weight that was loud enough for me to hear. They played a song on this tin box that made me pause in my tracks, made me listen.


Yesterday we drove the 25km from our grassy shack to the big beach to submerge ourselves in the cold waters of the Tasman Sea. We were heat scorched and in need of a bath. Without fail, every time I put my salty skin in the ocean waves, I squeal like an excited child. It is a full-immersion saltwater baptism that leaves me laughing and lighter and grateful to be alive. I am learning to let my limbs ride the waves. I am discovering how to be brave in water that is merciless and wild. I am forgoing composure and handing myself over to the raw pleasure of being washed over and swept along, weightless and reborn.


*This essay was originally published in Topology Magazine in April 2016.

Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
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Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015