Water is life.

Every river, brook, stream, lake, sea, and ocean is essential to all life and from which we get all life.  Watching a stream as it travels, you can see how humble it is, and yet, it carries minerals, sticks, leaves, and assists fish and frogs. Water keeps us humble when we become self-important.

Water carries all life.

When water meets up with boulders and logs, it teaches us lessons about finding our way around barriers as it proceeds one way then another around and over barriers. It teaches us that just as rivers need boundaries, people do, too.

Most of us are apt to take water for granted.

Two childhood lessons were taught to me by my aunt and mother about not taking water for granted.

In the early years of living in Maine, we had a well from which we pumped our water.

In the gentler months, dad would pour water into the top of the pump, then boost me up to get a purchase on the pump’s handle. He would guide me as I pushed down as hard as I could. It took several attempts to “prime the pump” and before you would hear the water gurgling up from deep in the earth. Then with what sounded like a huge gulp, water would come gushing forth from the spout. I felt joyously excited to see that crystal clear, cold water spewing forth! Sometimes I’d jump off the platform, and try to run around to the spout and let the clear, crisp water run into my mouth and over my face. When we had what we needed, we’d keep the last bucket full to prime the pump next time. The process was trickier in the winter, but essentially the same.

Even after we had running water, the water came from the well. Mom kept a close watch on water level reports. Our water traveled from a water aquifer far away. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I knew from my mom’s stern admonishments to conserve water that it was an essential piece of information for our continued existence. Before “environmental protection” was a phrase, she was careful to use the purest of cleansers for home and garden, strictly refusing to use synthetic fertilizers because she was aware they would go into the ground and make their way to the lake where we lived or our drinking water.

If you’d like to see how your water usage compares with similar households there are online water usage calculators. Challenge your friends, family, and neighbors to see who can diminish their water footprint. What we do as individuals matters. What we do as individuals in the collective matters even more.

My second lesson came from my aunt. At her home in New York, I was handwashing dishes. As I filled the sink with dishes and water, she admonished me not to use more water than necessary. Now, I knew this concept from my mom, but she also explained that she had to pay for any water that she used. For me, paying for water was a new and odd concept. Wasn’t water for everyone? A sovereign right that comes with the responsibility to honor and protect it.

There has to be respect given to water in ways that cause us to be cognizant of our relationship to Mother Earth rather than continue to exist in a manner that causes us to disconnect and take everything for granted.