When I was a child growing up in what was then very rural northwestern NJ, the water to our farmhouse came from an artesian well. Three of them, actually. There was enough water to supply the whole town. When we bought this little place in Kentucky just five years ago, there was no well, and no city water. Our ‘running water’ was piped in from a large concrete cistern buried in the front lawn. Oh, from inside the house, you’d never know the difference – until the cistern ran out of water! Water rationing was very important.
We – and everyone else that had a place down here in this ‘holler’ – had to be very careful to watch the water levels. About every two weeks, Charlie, who owned the rights to the city water well tap about 4 miles up the road, would load up his truck with water and deliver to all houses for about $15 a load. We were more fortunate than some others, as it turned out, because we bought Charlie’s house and with it, the water rights. But then, we inherited the responsibility for delivery and paying the water bill, too. Fortunately, we found a neighbor with a very big, very old truck who was willing to deliver water, and so it worked out all right for a couple of years. Which brings me to the point of this story. Since our water sat around in an underground cistern, we certainly didn’t drink the stuff. For that, we went to the spring, which is less than a quarter mile from our house. Since last year, we no longer have the cistern. The town has run water lines and we now enjoy city water that is safe to drink – but we still prefer to go to the spring for that.
The water, filtered through miles of mountain rock, flows all year long, clear, clean, and cold. Years ago, someone placed an iron trough and a piece of PVC pipe in the spring, to facilitate collecting the water. We collect it now from the flowing water, not from the water in the trough. Every so often, officials come out and test the water, and so far, it’s been perfectly safe and clean.
Going to the spring for water had become a sort of meditation for me. There’s a large flat rock next to the spring, and I usually spend a few moments there, giving thanks for the water and for the ability to live in such a place. It’s also a neat place to quietly observe the wild surroundings there. Last week there was a dark brown newt under the leaves; yesterday, a large green dragonfly that zoomed right in close, hovered at eye level, and zoomed out again. He made a stop in the small cattail pond below the spring, muddy from recent rains.
From the pond, the water travels through a pipe under the road and creates a brook that cascades down the mountain. It is barely visible running down the center of the next picture.
I plan to spend a lot more time just sitting here quietly, watching. There are a lot of dead trees around, and I usually hear or see a red-bellied woodpecker or two. I think places like this are becoming scarce, maybe even here in KY, and I’m really glad this one is protected. Life is good.