Water, water, everywhere*


WHEN WE PURCHASED the double lot in 2002 on which to construct the Hacienda, someone told me, “but there’s no water out there.” He was referring to the outlying neighborhood where we live.

That puzzled me because the neighborhood is full of folks, and I was sure they had water. It was only after we’d moved in that I understood. Sporadic municipal water was available, but it was the color of tea.

Now everybody knows you don’t drink the tap water in Mexico, but I would like to take a shower in it without toweling off to find myself looking like Al Jolson. So we did not connect to the municipal water supply. We dug a 9,000-liter cistern and a tanker truck filled it about once a month for $20. Not bad.

Years passed. About three years ago, a middle-class neighbor mentioned that he receives municipal water, and I asked: “Isn’t it dirty?” “No,” he replied, “not anymore.”

So, we connected, and it’s crystal clear. Seems that the neighborhood system had undergone an upgrade. We connected to the street pipe out back to fill the cistern near that wall, and we also connected out front to the underground pipe on the main thoroughfare.

We already had tanks, tons of tanks. The below-ground cistern out back is next to an above-ground backup tank. Out front, which is what you see above, are two tanks. The smaller is filled automatically from the street, and I fill the bigger one with a hose. Each has its own electric pump.

The municipal water costs about $4 a month. It is not metered. I use what I need.

Now I realize I’ve written about this before, but as we walked out the front gate this morning in the cool sunshine, I had my camera, so I took that photo, and after it was developed, it cried for an accompanying tale.

And you’ve just read it.

Pan to the right and ...
Pan to the right and …

Speaking of water, this is what lots of rain does, especially after a few years when a plant has made itself at home in its personal plot of dirt and staked a claim.

* * * *

* From the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Tres aguas


Every year about now, in bone-dry Springtime, we drain the cistern, drop a ladder into its heart and scrub the fine layer of soil from the floor.

Then we reopen the valve to the municipal pipe that sits beneath the cobblestone street out back, and in flows spring water from under the Sierra.

As it fills, I stand above this hole and think, my, that looks sweet. I’d like to take a dip. The water is clear and cool. I never do, of course.

* * * *

Half a century ago, both before and after I could legally pilot a Ford, I’d head through forests and fields of cotton, corn and peanuts till I got to the spot where the swimming hole was hidden just off the road of red clay.

It was southwest Georgia in the heat of summertime.

The hole was a fair size and spring-fed. There was a thick rope someone had tied to an overhanging tree branch, and you could swing from a high bank to plunge into the hole’s deepest part, which was about 15 feet of water.

That water was clear as mountain air and cold all year. Even though it was 15 feet down at the deepest part, you could easily see the floor.

Nothing else was there. No Stop-n-Robs, no gas stations, nobody rented inner tubes. There was nothing, and usually nobody. Just trees, birds and clear, cold water. You had the place to yourself, and it was wonderful.

* * * *

In January 1997, I swallowed LSD and psilocybin a time or two, trying to set myself straight at last, and it worked. I was 52, and it was way overdue.

Later that year, I learned a meditation technique. You need a drumbeat. A cassette will do. Close your eyes and imagine a hole into the earth. It can be any size because you aren’t actually squeezing in.

I usually found a bunny burrow near a boulder in my mind, so I slipped inside to the steady drumbeat sound. And I descended through a winding dirt tunnel. At times there were doors that had to be opened, so I did.

Finally, the tunnel broke out into a wonderful world, and before me was a small lagoon surrounded by tropical trees and soaring artwork birds.

I would step into the water and swim solitary until the drumbeat accelerated, which was the signal to return. At that point, it was necessary to leave the lagoon and rush up the rabbit hole, back into what we call reality.