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A Thing of Beauty

(Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin explores nature's attempt at maintaining permeable surfaces, right in her own yard, in her blog from September 15, 2011: http://blog.bjen.org/)

An enterprising man in a white pick-up truck came to the house yesterday, lured no doubt by the state of our driveway. He was not the first.

Trolling for work in these difficult times, such eager workmen drive around neighborhoods like mine checking out the state of people's driveways. They knock on your doors, tuck rolled-up brochures under your handles and otherwise find ways to tell you about their driveway repair services.

No doubt he saw our driveway (yup, that's ours pictured above) and began licking his chops.

To all the world, our driveway is a mess, as cracked and sun-baked as an iguana in a tanning salon.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To us, the driveway is just beginning its lovely ascent into permeability.

The world is full of hard, rain-resistant, impermeable surfaces. Which means that when we get rain, especially lots of it, instead of staying put and percolating into the soil near where it falls, the water runs off, swelling and flooding local streams and rivers and overwhelming stormwater structures, and carrying all sorts of natural and man-made debris (trash, oil, pollutants, etc) into our already-overstressed water systems.

It rained last night and today the cracks of my driveway are outlined in moisture – which is precisely what we want. For that means that water was able to seep down into our ground, staying right where it landed, refreshing our aquifer (our neighborhood relies on well-water) and not rushing off into our local stream.

Land development standards are increasingly demanding that stormwater management be designed to keep water on site. We now realize that all those concrete culverts and diversionary methods of taking water away from the site are destructive of the eco-systems we are eager to heal. Which is why green roofs, rain barrels, rain gardens, green driveways and permeable surfaces are all becoming standard practices.

We are proud that our driveway is ahead of the curve! It started degrading years ago!

So, back at our front door, my husband thanked our visitor for coming, but declined his offer. Our driveway is just beginning to get to where we want it – functional for our cars, and receiving of rainfall whenever it comes.

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