Thursday, August 09, 2012

Plastic water & the power of prayer

So here I sit, first thing in the morning, drinking another bottle of Hy-Vee Natural Spring Water --- not that I believe the content of this plastic bottle is any more natural than any other water, or that it actually came from a spring. But it does taste better these days than what comes out of the tap, channeled into town through the treatment plant from the two small lakes east of town from whence cometh Chariton's water supply.

This slide down the sluice to perdition started several weeks ago when three water main breaks in one day resulted in what turned out to be a brief city-wide drought. But there was no way of knowing the outage would be brief, so like dozens of others I headed down to the store to join the run on bottled water --- on sale that week. I bought three plastic-encased clumps, each containing 24 plastic bottles of water each, and proceeded to drink them during the next week or two.

After that was gone, I tried going back to tap water. First I noticed the faint smell of chemicals; then I tasted the fish tails and mud. And then I went back to Hy-Vee and bought more plastic water.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but developing enough discipline to recycle the bottles has been a challenge. All it takes is a quick snip to remove the paper band around the bottle, a storage spot and an occasional trip to the collection point. But too often the bottles get tossed into the regular garbage, bagged and sent off to the landfill. Not good. So I'm either going to have to develop better recycling habits or redevelop a taste for tap water.

I tried the latter this morning --- faint chemical smell; faint taste of fish tails and mud. Then opened my current bottle of Hy-Vee Natural Spring Water.


Some days I long for Rathbun rural water --- piped across the south of Iowa from an Appanoose County treatment plant fed by Lake Rathbun --- the Chariton river and other smaller streams impounded. I remember that as always tasting better down on the farm.

Then I got to talking with Meg, who lives on the homeplace with her husband these days, and found out that they're not especially happy with Rathbun water and are thinking of reactivating the old well that we drank from when I was a kid --- conveniently located under the south porch. That really is spring water, tapped from a source that exits the earth in a mini-marsh just across the road. The water would have to be tested, of course, to see if hazardous bacteria or unsafe levels of farm chemicals have invaded.

If that's done and they actually do return to the good old days of bucket and dipper --- I'll go down and take a drink.


It's cooler here now, at least for the time being --- a stretch of highs only in the 80s predicted through Monday. And we've had a few light showers. Not enough to dent the drought, but appreciated anyway.

Every time it's rained, I've been wondering if Sarah Palmer has been praying again out there in the hills northeast of Lucas near White Breast Creek.

Sarah, a retired Presbyterian preacher, tells the story of a previous drought --- some time in the 1980s maybe --- when a community-wide prayer session for rain was convened on the courthouse lawn.

Everyone brought folding chairs, but Sarah was the only one who remembered to bring along an umbrella.


Those red things in the bowl next to the water in the photo here are tomatoes, by the way --- the only produce from my little garden this year. Everything else has either dried up and blown away or is barely hanging on, hoping for rain and a more fruitful September.

The two tomato plants have continued to plug away, however, and are now beginning to produce on a modest scale. Although not large, they taste wonderful. Now if I could remember just which variety of tomato it was that I planted.

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