Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I am Thankful for Clean Water

[I am over extended at work and have little time for creative writing. For the next couple of weeks my entries will not doubt be less reflective but sincere none the less, mostly.]

I have never been without clean water. I can go to a tap in the kitchen and get a drink of chlorinated water that is treated with fluoride to protect my teeth. Occasionally I read reports of a water system with impurities and excessive particulates but I cannot recall reading a report of groups of people dying or even becoming gravely ill in America because of a contaminated public water system. We take it for granted. Millions of people get ill every year in other parts of the world because of unsafe water.

I have been thirsty. I have worked and sweated and craved a drink of cool water. I have gone on hikes without carrying enough water. But water has always been just a few minutes away. I have quenched my thirst by eating snow or drinking from a crystal clear glacial stream. I have drunk from artesian (flowing) wells of sulfa water; they smell like rotten eggs but the water refreshes just the same. In the swampy rivers of southern Georgia the tannic acid purifies the water so that it can be drunk without being filtered; just dunk a cup over the side of the boat if you are thirsty. I never got sick.

My favorite water is the water from shallow wells in southern Georgia. It is rich in minerals that give it a sweet taste. (Unfortunately, it also makes ice tea an abomination.) There is nothing better on a hot day of work than to go to the pump and draw cool fresh water. We would drink it straight from the spigot or share a common glass. Everyone took their turn. The ritual was to first wash the sweaty dirt from your face, neck, hands and arms. The purpose was more to cool off than to get clean.

There were styles of drinking from this waist high fountain of renewal. Some would bend over, tilt their head sideways, place their mouth directly on the nozzle and drink. Others would cup both hands together lean down and drink as the water ran into their self fashioned bowls. A similar maneuver was to use one hand to pool the running water. Older men were more likely to use one or both hans to raise the water up to their mouths. I generally used the two handed method; it was quicker.

While sweet to the taste, this water didn’t satisfy until you were full. Then, our stomachs swollen with the liquid of life, the original pause that refreshes, we would sit in the shade of a big old oak tree and glory in the progress of our labor, anticipating the return to the fields. A few minutes later, prompted by Dad or Grand-pa, we would rise for one more drink before returning to the sun drenched fields.

I should drink more water and fewer soft drinks. (I am cutting back.) Water is one of God’s greatest gifts within creation. Without it there would be no life. It is also one of His most abundant gifts and one of the most taken for granted. Perhaps I will be more truly thankful when I more readily recognize and no longer take for granted those gifts that seem available to everyone. They are none-the-less His personal gifts to me. Today, I am thankful for clean water.

Cleveland, Tennessee
February 2, 2010

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