So there I was, squirming my posterior eastward toward the big pond they call The Atlantic, and just as I poked my anterior out of the soil, here comes this guy all dressed up in a neoprene suit wading out of the high seas like the creature from the black lagoon...
Me: Holy water snakes! What in the...WHO in the world are you?
Guy in the ocean: I'd recognize that voice anywhere...OVIE? Is that you?
Me: Sure it's me, over here, in the soil. [And just as the big slug removed his goggles.... CHRISTOPHER SWAIN! Are you STILL swimming?
Guy (now on land): Still swimming, Ovie. You know I love swimming!
Me: Well, sure...but last time we talked you just got done swimming the entire length of the Columbia River. What now? Are you swimming across the ocean? There must be a nice pool around here somewhere. Why in the world would you choose to swim in an icy-cold ocean?
Chris: Heh. I love the ocean, Ovie.
Me: Well, so do I, but...uh...isn't it a little dirty?
Chris: A LITTLE dirty? It's REALLY dirty. It makes me sad that it's all messed up, Ovie, and I'm trying to make a point. I want to draw some attention to the problem. I'm swimming to find out what the problems are, figure out some solutions to the problems, and make friends with folks that want to help me clean it up.
Me: Another do-gooder, 'eh? Well, you have a friend in me, Chris. Let's get to the bottom of it. What's in the ocean that makes it so messed up?
Chris: What's in it? Well, two things. Things you can see, and things you can't see.
Me: What can you see?
Chris: It's awful. You can see gasoline, oil, garbage, sewage...
Me: Yuck. That's stuff's not supposed to be in there! What about the things you CAN'T see? What are those things?
Chris: Those are just as bad...heavy metals, nuclear waste—
Me: YUCK! And you're SWIMMING in it?!
Chris: Lots of people are swimming it, Ovie. That's not the end of it. Let's see...there's pesticides, herbicides...
Me: HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, SWAIN! Did you say PESTICIDES and HERBICIDES? Egad...I'm getting' outa here—
Chris: No, wait!...You said you would help! I thought we were friends! Come on, Ovie.
Me: Okay, okay. You're right. But what's a worm to do? How did the OCEAN get so polluted?
Chris: The ocean reflects the consequences of every environmental choice we've ever made. Everything we've ever put into the ground or into the air eventually ends up in the ocean. You know how precipitation works, don't you, Ovie? Rain comes down from the sky, goes into the land, and eventually finds its way into the rivers, then the lakes, then it goes up in the air, forms clouds, and comes back down again as rain. And the water carries all that stuff you CAN'T see with it.
Me: Oh, my. That's terrible.
Chris: This is where you and your friends can help, Ovie. Agriculture has a humongous impact on all the world's waterways. Organic farming is a very healthy way to grow the food we need. It slows runoff and erosion and it doesn't contribute to the chemical pollution in the earth's water.
Me: SQUIRM-O-RAMA! GO ORGANIC!
Chris: That's right, Ovie. Organic farming is a great example of a way we can live and work without hurting each other and the places we live. You go tell your people to just keep on doing what they're doing. It's the right thing to do...now, and into the future. And do everything you can to turn people on to farming organically and buying organically produced food. If we're all working on it together, we can make a difference in the world.
Me: Oh, man...now THAT'S a pep-talk. All for one and one for all!
Chris: Yep. Essentially, we're all one people. We're all islanders in one big watershed.
Me: RIGHT ON! Uh...what's a watershed?
Chris: The Earth, Ovie. The Earth is our watershed. We need to take care of it. And speaking of the watershed, I'm gonna go swim in it, and how 'bout you go back underground and start squirming your way back to the farm?
Me: Got it! Thanks, Chris, for making your point.
Chris: You're welcome, Ovie. And thank YOU for listening. See you...uh...downstream.
Me: Don't you mean down ocean?
Christopher Swain is helping the issues facing the ocean come alive for kids! Join over 2,000 classrooms across the country and learn more about Christopher Swain's swim and the research data he's collecting.