She probably didn’t know – the woman who lived here before us – how little water was in the well or how long the well took to recover when all the water had been drawn. Even if she had known, it probably wouldn’t have mattered. She was into her nineties and she lived alone. How much water could one person use?
The well had been drilled less than 50 feet deep at the bottom of an even older stone-walled dug well. At a time before we all decided we need everything in a hurry and then waste so much of what we thought we needed, it was probably deep enough. When gardens were watered by the bucketful and clothes were washed because they were dirty, not because they’d been worn once, a little water went a long way.
We were still living away when we signed the papers that married us to this land. Our son and daughter-in-law were tending the house and, most of the time, they were okay. When we visited and were all together, it was quite a different story. The wash dishes – wait, shower – wait, fill the washing machine – wait, rhythm of our lives was stressful. We had to listen to make sure the pump didn’t struggle and burn itself out.
Before we could move back to Maine, we knew we’d have to drill a new well, a daunting task from 550 miles away. We called our plumber, Mark, who had fixed all manner of water woes in the short time we’d owned the house. When he told us not to worry about a thing, we didn’t worry. By the time we came home to stay we had water, enough bone chilling, hand numbing cold water in a 205 foot well to irrigate the potato fields all around, the well driller told Mark.
A fine thing can happen when want becomes plenty. Although we use all the water we need, all the water we want, really, we couldn’t possibly leave a faucet dripping or a hose running. We remember the water differently, aware of the privilege of having more than we could ever use. We need the water to help us care for this land. The water needs us to enjoy it mindfully. We’re called not only to be good stewards of our land, but also of the water deep beneath it.