Friday, April 12, 2013

If it' s April, Must be Water Month!

If it's April, must be Water Month!

Every few minutes, I turn the spigot on, to wash hands, scrub vegetables, rinse rags or brush my shoes. Then I fill the bathtub, schedule a full load in the machine, easy come, easy waste! No, this is the house of waste not, by choice or by conscience, every drop still counts. Tub water will be bucketed out and metted among thirsty individual plants in the garden, dish water will nourish daylillies and apple trees. To each a purpose and a re-purpose. I carry with me ancestral habits and pride.

For my own primary family in the city, water was an economic necessity measured in francs. Every jet from the one kitchen spigot was accounted and regulated by the finance expert known as “mother”; that was where I learned to soak and boil laundry, turn off water between vigorous tooth brushing or face washing. Every basin's worth of precious liquid rendered its weight upon my conscience or more precisely my fear of accountability in the parental eye .

The rural perspective of water presented me with a more pleasant alternative, it was easier to measure the cost of water by its actual weight in the bucket and its physical exertion ratio as I had to pump the stuff from a rotary iron wheel made for men to fill a large container above. The water would then flow trough a two and a half foot limestone wall by way of a thick metal pipe. Water was cold, straight from an underground stream, a well of endless possibility, virtual treasure. Gratis too.

I fondly recollect feeding and watering of grandmother's animals with the free liquid, a large iron mouth would pour through the cemented ditch, a modern invention of my uncle's, it would run down to the lower echelons of the barnyard, all the way to the pig sty, i' d beat the chickens to the pooling pond, a frenzy of fur and feathers, dog, cats and assorted fowl, honking, and cackling about me. What glorious relief these chores were from whatever misery weather had wrought upon us that day. I would carry a bucket and a ladle to allocate some to each of three hundred very thirsty rabbits as well.

At day's end, I would bring sheep home to the barns and fill their troughs. It was my duty to make sure that the cows had functioning watering plates, to the right of each stall where the cattle were chained, I pressed the iron plate to watch the water fill the bowl. Then let the animal slurp to see if it refilled automatically. This was another invention of note..the self waterer, I was elated not to have to carry the water in the stables.

Another endearing sign of progress was the outdoor shower my uncle had designed, a rudimentary shed with no roof, a large iron kettle atop, secured by great beams, the water was hot by afternoon, too hot for me. It poured on command through some complex device which I had to yank; if too hot, I ran out with clothes still on, added some cool water with hose and tried again before disrobing. Making sure the neighborhood boys were far away was the hard part, and unwelcome distraction.

Creeks and sloughs were of equally free spirited benefit, I waded in the luxury, splashed and careened through sun or storm with legs and skirts drenched in the primordial necessity, carefree. This was love, cold or warm, from Ocean to clear spring, it was health, abundance unmeasured.

later, rinsing my own children's clothes in the creek was a distinct advantage, I felt complete and caring, for the purity of the water, the sound of rushing over stones and the smell of hydrogenated goodness, oxygen at work on hands and cloth. What pleasures, what privilege. I miss the contact, senses alive with need and fulfillment; the stuff of life! I shall return with continuing personal evolution of water consciousness across that Ocean and into the desert