Although they weren’t from the same news source, I managed to scrounge up an article and a video about the resurgence and restoration of Mono Lake, an extremely salty lake in the Southern Sierra Nevadas with an ecosystem contingent upon not fish, but shrimp (www.monolake.org). When the city of Los Angeles began using Mono Lake as a source of water – water always seems to be a problem with SoCal – the lake levels dropped dramatically and the lake’s natural life was thrown akimbo, edging on the brink of evaporation. But in 1978, a group called the Mono Lake Committee was formed to combat the shrinking volume, and doubling salinity, of the lake. With diligence and hard work, Mono Lake committee members and volunteers have begun to do what it takes to help the lake levels begin to rise again, and are restoring a natural (if not still unusual) ecosystem back into the region.
Maybe it’s because I’m easily entertained, but I found both the article and the multimedia package informative and interesting…in rather different ways. While I was reading the article, I was filling in the details in my mind of what Mono Lake must look like – drawing little diagrams in my brain of lakes being diverted…stick figure drawings of tufa deposits being paved along the lake’s bottom…things of that nature. While people were being interviewed, their words were all about the lake, but the interviews could have been as easily conducted in an office somewhere slightly removed from the lake’s setting as they could have been at the lakeside. Additionally, the way the article reads, although “thousands of migratory birds” spend their vacation weeks at Mono Lake recuperating, the “otherworldly landscape” the author keeps referencing makes it seem all the more space-like – as though the lake itself wasn’t capable of sustaining or nurturing life. It sounds more alien, to me anyway, than perhaps the author intended…and because it’s an article, I’m left to fill in the details for myself.
I really enjoyed the multimedia package! It took me right there, to lakeside, where I could see the birds and the sun and the shape of the cliffs and those unusual things jutting out of the water. I could see the water rushing back into the lake, see that the lake wasn’t as “alien” as someone had made it out to be. It really (well, obviously) showed the natural setting – showing that Mono Lake was never simply a reservoir ready for people to drain, but an ecosystem in a natural setting all its own. And while science-y jargon about new organisms and “life on Mars? Maybe?” is all well and good, the video’s simple shots of the trees, of streams running, and of cute little yellow birds remind the viewers that Nature is doing what Nature has always been doing…even before there were people trying to figure out exactly how it all worked. It puts scientists and conservationists back in their own realm, which a newspaper alone has a tough time doing without describing the sights and sounds.
There’s just something about seeing a lake, hearing the water, sensing the quiet serenity…..something that a news article can’t convey without going WAY beyond the word count. Plus, your imagination doesn’t have to work quite as hard to picture the length — but never fear, there’s still plenty of room for creativity. I don’t know about you, but while I was watching the video, my mind was buzzing with all the ways I could describe Mono Lake if I ever had to….