I am currently of the belief
that the most brilliant thing ever invented
is the faucet.
Kudos and full acknowledgement to the rivers, the waterfalls,
the pouring springs we gleaned the knowledge from
(a running faucet does not hold the same appeal
as a babbling brook
or a meandering river)
– but today I sing in praise of faucets.
I am living on the East Canada Creek this summer,
endless water flowing by, white noise over rocks.
I dip my plastic bucket in for water to wash the dishes,
water the herb garden, flush the composting toilet,
wash my body and my hair – soon I must do laundry.
Nobody will miss the water I take
nor even notice that it’s gone
– and it’s not going far,
creek water becoming grey-water
poured on plants around the cabin.
The water for drinking, for rinsing – clean water
(replete with trace minerals specific to this place)
is more precious,
coming as it does from a box spring two miles away.
A pipe comes out beside the road
pouring cold, delicious water fresh from the underground
into a concrete trough suitable for watering livestock.
A perfect place to do laundry –
if it weren’t right on the edge of the road
– right on the edge of town.
(Literal dirty laundry isn’t the sort of thing
one brings out in public – not in these modern times.)
I fetch spring water home in 3 big plastic 5-gallon containers:
120 pounds of water in the back of the borrowed jeep
is lasting me two weeks. I do the math –
it’s obvious I’m not drinking enough water.
I am blessed this summer with natural water in abundance;
my needs are met in full, my soul’s desire replete
spending time by moving water after so many years away,
the frequent rains feel like bounty, mushrooms flourish,
– I am grateful, often blissful –
do not mistake this screed for complaint or a statement of lack.
I am simply appreciating, as never before,
the convenience, no, the genius of the faucet.
I lift the tea kettle full of hot water above my head
– just before I start to pour
some part of me more strident than logic
screams “NO! Danger! Stupid! Pain!”
having known since the age of three that this is wrong.
Even though I’ve tested the water temperature with my finger
I still cringe a little bit as it first touches my scalp,
before laughing aloud at my own brainwashing.
In practical terms a kettle is very like a faucet,
the temperature is easily adjustable,
it rinses conditioner from my hair quicker than a shower
but it lacks the casual ease of endless supply, abundance
pouring out forever while I daydream under its warm caress.
The water in a kettle is finite.
Without a faucet, dishwashing becomes a ritual of pouring,
prioritizing, catching and decanting, swirling and cognitive.
I save the melted ice from the cooler
(somewhere in the middle-ground of clean)
use it for rinsing, of corpus or cookware,
I pour it from a pitcher over silverware or plates,
again creating the function of a faucet,
again the water is limited – and cold!
With a faucet, I often wash dishes like a river raccoon –
working under a constant flow of hot water
is soothing and has always seemed more sanitary,
cleaner than the cloudy, sudsy pond in the sink
growing dirtier with each dish washed
– there comes a tipping point where I lose faith in the process.
River raccoon washing behavior is not for desert dwelling
nor sailboat dwelling nor times of drought.
I know that water is a precious resource,
ever to be conserved and used sparingly.
I’m doing my best to do my part for the planet
I got rid of my vehicle, changed out all my lightbulbs,
don’t use air conditioning, recycle, shop at the second hand store,
use solar every chance I get, this summer a composting toilet,
but hot water is my one luxury item, please,
please, don’t make me feel guilty about long steamy showers,
about endless deep baths almost every day in winter,
about doing dishes like a happy raccoon.
OK, I do feel guilty,
and I’m doing none of that this summer, I’ll have you know.
But I am yearning, pining beneath the pines,
absence making the heart grow fonder –
today I sing in praise of faucets,
of a steady stream of hot or cold water
on tap at the twist of a wrist
– of all the modern inventions
the faucet tops my list.