A couple of weeks ago, we had several days worth of work done in our basement. This was not a project to finish the lower level into a workout area or make it cushy for television and movies, or even to set up a workshop (that’s coming in the future, although not a tricked-out variety). No, this was so water would stop coming in.
I’m not talking major flooding, but enough water to be of concern; an old issue that no former owner had addressed. And it needed addressing because that sort of thing only becomes worse over time.
This job involved jackhammering a trench inside two walls of the basement to create a drainage area into which outside water will trickle and be drawn away from the foundation. (Several rainstorms later, I’m pleased to say that it works.) The woman who lived here before us had installed a complicated water-softening system which had to be disconnected and moved away from the wall so the workers could do their thing. That my husband did…but it meant we would be without water for a few days until things could be hooked up again.
No worries. We’ve been in situations (hurricanes, nor’easters) where we’ve been without water for up to a week. We could do this. We filled big industrial-sized buckets and every jug and soup kettle we own. We were ready.
And we were. But the need to do it, the need to haul water as required, to heat it on the stove for washing dishes or washing ourselves made me thoughtful. Those of us privileged enough to have ready access to fresh water don’t often think about how blessed we are. We don’t consider what it must be like to have water in our pipes that can sicken us (think Flint, Michigan). We don’t ponder having no water in our homes at all, ever. (Having also experienced a well going dry one year, my husband and I are poignantly aware of those feelings.) We don’t contemplate having to walk miles with empty buckets to a communal well, or trickling stream, or a lake that’s drying out, and then walk home with the weight of that life-giving, life-affirming fluid dragging at our arms and shoulders.
We don’t think.
We need to think. Not just about how lucky some of us are with regards to water, but we all need to learn how to treat it with respect. How not to assume it’s ours to use as we like and for however long. To treasure each drop as precious, because it is. Water is survival. A human being can live for up to two months without food, but without water? Three days.
Think about that the next time you let the faucet run or take an overly-long shower.