Sunday, November 4, 2012

celebrating water

Today is the first anniversary of water at the cabin, and to celebrate I’ve just gone to this website to donate $20 to help others get water—clean water.

Home Sweet Watery Home
The difference between my situation and their situation is so vast it’s immeasurable, for although I lived without water throughout the summer and fall of 2011, water was always nearby, never beyond reach. I found it in the river, in the rain, and even behind the post office, where clean, fresh water flows from an artesian well. I enjoyed hot water at a friend’s house and even, on a sunny day, I’d get a few warm gallons at the cabin, from my solar heater, also known as a black plastic bag. And, until I sold my other house, which would provide me with the cash to dig a well on this property and to get plumbing and a sink and a tub and a toilet, I could return there and use its standard hot and cold running water. When that house was gone, I took showers in the women’s locker room at the rec center at Michigan Tech University.

So when I say I lived without water, I say it knowing it’s not exactly true.

What is true is that finding water, when it’s not in your home, can be time-consuming, a little nerve-wracking, and expensive. The round-trip drive to Tech takes about an hour, and then there was the packing of fresh clothes, towels, soap, shampoo, comb, and lotion; stopping at the ticket window to buy the six-dollar daily pass to the facility; undressing and unpacking; luxuriating in a hot hot shower; dressing and repacking wet towels, dirty clothes, the shampoo, lotion, comb, et cetera. Then maybe it was time for a trip to the laundromat ...

Because of the time involved, I tried not to shower more than once every four days or so, and what I found is this: Never mind the aroma, there’s a certain crankiness, anxiety, even, dare I say it, angst, that can creep in with the grime. I suppose part of it, for me, was knowing that water was coming to my home soon, but not knowing exactly when, and being impatient with the process: three days of well digging (gargantuan equipment that clanged and chugged and spit mud in the air as it bore into the earth); another three weeks before the plumbing was complete and cold water flowed from the kitchen tap; then two more weeks before hot water appeared.

So, on November 4, 2011, when cold, muddy water first flowed from a spigot on the side of the house, I celebrated, but I also wondered: Is it possible I could be taking my first hot bath in this little cabin by Thanksgiving? When Thanksgiving came and went I wondered: Maybe Christmas? A hot bath in my own little cabin became an obsessive goal and when the day arrived, two weeks before Christmas, I popped the champagne, filled the tub with steaming water and bubbles, and almost passed out from the heat and the alcohol, which I am no longer used to.

I think of the past week’s hurricane and the people who have water all around them, putting them out of their homes, but no water, at the moment, for life’s practical purposes. And I think of people in places like Rwanda that have, basically, no water at all, no clean water, and wonder, how do they get by? And I wonder, of course, why I should have all the water I need (and then some) while others have none.


{ Just in case youre wondering, for certain practical purposes throughout this time of “no water” I used a sawdust toilet. Marvelously simple and sanitary, but please, I never want to go back to it. One of the most interesting and funny books Ive ever read is The Humanure Handbook. Highly recommended. And by the way, this weeks special at the Etsy shop is one free beeswax turtle with each order! }