Taken a while back, the Blackwood River on the north side of Boyup Brook, froth in the foreground, foam to the middle left.
Froth in water, be it lakes, rivers, creeks or the ocean, is generally a combination of pressure or agitation (so, rushing water, or crashing waves creating bubbles), the matter from decomposing plants such as oils (in Australia one significant culprit is eucalyptus), dead plant tissues, dust making froth or foam, and protein (which is also a common contributor to foam in expelled urine). Many people imagine that someone has dumped detergent in the water, given the dramatic effect of the froth or foam, and yet it is all natural ingredients contributing to the phenomena.
Froth or foam is not ordinarily considered to be a negative. That which occurs naturally in water is quite normal and shows nature in process. In some circles a froth on top of a glass of beer is considered a good thing as it indicates that the beer is not flat or lacking. In firefighting foam has been utilized in combating fires involving flammable liquids, the foam restricts oxygen thus preventing fire. Detergent froth and foam is seen as useful in that the foam is the detergent becoming active when needed. And we have all at some point utilized pretrochemical foams in mattresses and pillows, etc. But froth and foam have been used negatively in literature. The old saying, “it’s all froth and bubble” is a form of ridicule applied to any situation you wish to criticise:- The speech was all froth and bubble” meaning, the speech was lacking substance.
Everything has its good and not so good side, or, everything has both strengths and weaknesses, froth and foam are no different. But the weaknesses are few and overall froth and foam make such a valualble contribution to nature and to life. In some ways we can see froth and foam as a metaphor for ourselves. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I have a view that our weaknesses are few in comparison to our strengths, and we all make a valuable contribution, and often not just in our core vocation, but in what my grandparents might have considered stuff that was froth and bubble – hobbies, interests, leisure activities, creativity – the things that make us come alive, energise us and carry us (and others with us) through.
Froth and foam are the result of aggitation and energy and natural ingredients, this is not unlike ourselves. When we are aggitated, put under pressure, stimulated, enabled, we can produce all sorts of creative things. Froth and bubble are signs of life, signs of substance, a parallel to cream – the best rising to the top. When we are energised the creative rises to the top, sometimes dramatically, and for all to see, just like frothy waves, or foam enveloped waters. Life is not all froth and bubble, but when the good and the creative rises to the top it is to be seen, shared and celebrated.