Homeground: The Language of Landscape
Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney. (Courtesy of Trinity University Press)
In our continuing series on language of the American landscape from the book "Home Ground," editor Barry Lopez defines the term "acre foot."
GELLERMAN: Just ahead - a story about mixing oil and water in the California desert. In that story youÂ’ll hear a term not commonly used: acre-foot. For a definition we turn to the book Â“Home Ground.Â” ItÂ’s an anthology of expressions that describe, explain and illuminate our landscape. The editor is Barry Lopez.
LOPEZ: Acre-foot. In a landscape where porcupines lead undisturbed lives, every attentive resident knows how far you mean when you say something is Â“two porcupines away.Â” ItÂ’s twice the breadth of what oneÂ’s come to know as a single porcupine range. Similarly, we learn to quickly locate a feature on the horizon if someone says, Â‘itÂ’s a thumbnail to the left of the highest peak there.Â’
Folk measurements like these - or the stoneÂ’s-throw, the dayÂ’s ride, or the pace, though not precise, are accurate. The acre-foot joins together two once imprecise folk measurements to create a term that, apparently, leaves nothing to interpretation. ItÂ’s exactly 43,560 cubic feet of water - a single acre, one foot deep. Given the behavior of water, however, such a precision is rarely dead accurate, which accounts for the enduring wisdom behind the use of folk measurements.
GELLERMAN: Nature writer Barry Lopez lives on the McKenzie River in western Oregon. His definition of acre-foot is from the book Â“Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape,Â” which he edited with Debra Gwartney.
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Newsletter [Click here]
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth