The newspaper reports that we are not, by a long shot, out of the woods with respect to water supplies, in spite of the four inches of rain we got last week. And we are not alone. At Chesapeake Climate Action Network conference held at Clark Hall last weekend, it was reported that 100 water systems in North Carolina and Tennessee have less than 100 days of water available for their customers. More alarming is that the Naval Postgraduate School, which has been studying the rate of loss of sea ice at the North Pole for many decades, is predicting that by 2013, there will be no summer sea ice at all. And, that as the polar ice shrinks, the jet stream and the moisture it holds are pulled north, which is exactly what we’ve seen this summer and fall.So on this crisp, bright Halloween Day, I drive up to the Sugar Hollow Reservoir to see for myself. Noontime, weekday, it is quiet up as I pull into the parking area at the top of the dam. The water mirrors the soft changing colors of the turning trees in the headwaters above. The reservoir itself is with rimmed with dry, hard clay and rock. According to the Water & Sewer Authority’s online record, it is down 12.2 feet. Below the dam, a stout hose is spewing a wash of water into the shallow pool below, a small concession to the Moormans River and the ecology of downstream needs.I walk down through a grove of pines and hickory, the hardened brown leaves tapping out a rhythm on the bark as they wave in the slight breeze. Past the trees, I sit down in the sloping intertidal zone, between the line of “lots of water” and “not enough.” The reservoir is at 86% capacity, but the view from here does not look so encouraging.Others have been here before me. A large rounded boulder protruding from the slope next to me has a flattened top and must have been a tempting target, for it is strewn with broken glass from shattered beer bottles. Gold metal tabs from bait cans glint in the high midday sun. I feel like I am witness to the barrens that will be left behind when drought forces masses of us to live in other places or, possibly, to live in other ways. At the water’s edge, stubs of tree trunks emerge from the water, testament to the staying power of the anaerobic environment, preserved as they have been since 1947 when the dam was built and the reservoir filled the valley.The longer view is more reassuring. Across the reservoir, the soft tree line slopes towards the mountains, along the course of the South Fork of the Moormans River. The wind’s fetch over the reservoir makes it look like the water is flowing back upriver. A lone bird sits on the elbow of a tree limb bent up and out of the water. As it turns its head, I see a patch of light gray that reminds me of cormorant, but it’s too far to see. High in the noontime sky, the waning moon sits above the Blue Ridge. A raven calls from a ridge beyond.I have been struggling to find my own core of optimism since attending this weekend’s conference. All the feedback loops — atmospheric, hydrologic, ecological – forces that help maintain life in a delicate but dynamic equilibrium on this planet — are now presenting themselves in ways that have been mostly underestimated with consequences that are unavoidably stark. Even a modest sea level rise will inundate 3000 miles of shoreline in the Chesapeake Bay region, impacting all the major cities along the fall the line and hundreds of thousands of people.Across the reservoir, I see the former high water line, incised into the bank and scribed across a large boulder with a dark line of weeds that divides the upper and lower halves as though a mirror reflection. Like the glass half empty, it reminds me of the dry times ahead. But maybe the other half is what I cannot see, but can feel as sure as I am this human body warmed by the sun and touched by the light breeze. This half is the hope, vision, resolve, and commitment that we are all being called to bring forth and contribute. May this reservoir always be sufficiently full.