Water is Earth’s Genius
It’s astonishing! We own a well! My wife and I. A well of water!
We had it dug-- or rather drilled-- up on the side of Sugarloaf Mountain. Precisely four hundred and one feet, straight down. That’s a football field with the behind the goal lines thrown in. Down through all sorts of granite, hard and soft, until the drill head reached an intrusion of white quartz, fractured so that it could carry water. Our water, in triumph!
“Carry” water, I so carelessly say. Where was the water going? Where had it been-- at that considerable depth? Had it been there always, down in the bowels of Sugarloaf? Is it primordial? Is it ancient?
But then all water is primordial, is it not? Has not all water been here--or there-- from the Beginning, used, abused, and reused? There is no new water, is there? On this exquisite, watery blue planet.
Exquisite even when our water, like Hamlet’s king, goes “a progress through the guts of a beggar”. Or, when at home, the heavens load up and water turns on us with a destroying flood -- in some strange sort or vengeance for I know not what…. Even then.
I am not a hydrologist and so am free to think these things or whatever else comes up out of the well of my mind about water-- or the creatures who live on it.
Years ago, visiting Mesa Verde, I saw way back, at the base of the cavern, right at the spot where the dome reached the floor, a seep of water, hardly noticeable to one who in the mountains has seen many such seeps and springs. But this tiny drip, behind the ruin of an ancient Anasazi stone house, was, I was to learn, adequate for the needs of a family. Enough water to drink, enough for cooking, maybe enough for a bit of washing…. It doesn’t take a whole lot, I was suddenly to realize. Sacred water, essential water, beautiful water. Just enough, flowing, dripping, cold and clear, from the stone immemorial. Water, the best companion of our lives.
We now get our bit of it from our well at Sugarloaf, out of the great aquifer of the planet. I keep wondering if it has always been there? Did we tap into it for the first time? The water is cold, startlingly clear, pure and without stain. The poet W.B. Yeats wrote, over there in watery Ireland, that water is the soul generated. If suddenly the soul, whatever it is or is not, were to turn to substance, it would be water. Water of which we are mostly made and keeps us going, and reconciled to our days and nights.
And now we own a well of it! “Own?” Perhaps I can own the well, but can I own the water it delivers? I think I borrow the water only for a time and then send it on to be used, abused, and used all over again, somewhere….
The wondrous thing about water is that it can be purified. It can and has been freshened and used over and over and over, polluted, despoiled, dried up, you name it, and purified yet again. And still it cannot, in its nature, be destroyed. Its purification suggests the purification of the soul. With it we are anointed and blessed. The evaporation over the vastnesses of the oceans, restores water to its primordial purity. Over and over and over-- until it ends up getting pumped out of that deep and secret bed of quartz at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain and into our very cabin.
To think of it is to want to drink it. It tastes like… like what? Maybe it tastes like the word, “clarity”. It tastes clear of everything but itself with nothing in it but a wee bit of iron, or so the tests show. It supports good coffee, and a few drops illuminate good whiskey. It’s all-round water, and it thrills me.
Cost? That first taste of the water was hideously expensive, thousands of dollars. But now that the well is paid for, the water seems to flow for free. It’s mine! Or is it? How can anyone own the necessities of the good earth? Who can properly be said to own them? It feels more like borrowing or renting to me.
Still, I am glad to “own” this well. I dote on the mystery of it. So much that I cannot see, but only dream of. What can it be like down there where light has never shone, nor eye seen? Can the quartz be white down there in that absolute darkness? I feel in some crazy way that the water that flows up those four hundred and one feet to me is indeed the generation of the soul. To me and a trout. Nothing enjoys good, cold, clean water more than a trout. And I have sought the trout in such waters all over the place all over a life-time-- and so am qualified to speak in this way of water, fish, and the angler.
I post this on Thanksgiving day of 2013 when I am profoundly grateful for our well,