Like good health, it’s easy to take water for granted until you don’t have what you need. Since we’ve been walking through some pretty remote places we’ve been aware of how much water we need to have on hand just for drinking, and in the summer heat we can polish off a gallon of water in an hour or two.
It’s one of the big reasons we’re walking to try to help save Oak Flat – because no ore is more valuable than water. When you get really thirsty, nothing is better than an ice cold cup of water.
We’ve walked by a number of streams running at a trickle and a few reservoirs that were completely dry. Our route has taken us along stretches of the Oregon Trail, and walking down the century old road I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like to be there a century ago. People of that era certainly had no illusions about the value of a cool clear stream.
Our relationship to water has become just another transaction. Forty years ago kids didn’t stop playing to come inside for a drink, they would just turn on the hose in the yard and wait a minute for the water to run cool. Then the hose was passed around and everybody drank as much as they wanted. We carry our plastic water jugs around so we can keep them filled, but water for sale is so much more plentiful than a public hose or drinking fountain. When we ask to fill up our water jugs people often say, “Well, you can use the hose but I wouldn’t drink from it!” I am never quite sure if they won’t drink that water because it’s actually not good water or because they are post hose-water sharing generation.
A few days ago we stopped for ice cream and the woman behind the counter said we could fill up from their kitchen tap if we left through the back door, which we did because what do we care, but what an odd requirement. I haven’t seen anyone else trying to actually refill a water jug rather than just buy more water since 1982. Maybe she’s afraid we’ll start a trend.