I have an indulgence. Every so often I load up my car with glass wine jugs I rescued from the recycle bins at City Hall. People around here don’t drink much wine in jugs, or maybe people who drink wine in jugs don’t recycle much, so just finding and sterilizing acceptable bottles is the first step in my indulgence.
The next step is to sit back and take a pretty drive to the country to fill the bottles with spring water. Spring water used to be free at a lovely spot alongside a river tributary, but people have built fancy houses uphill and messed up that pretty place. Now I have to drive a little farther and pay 25 cents per gallon. I think it’s worth it. Even when I was at my most poor, I kept filling my water jugs.
The place I go now is a trout club, if you can imagine such a thing. There’s a restaurant with food that looks really good, but us po’ folk don’t get to eat there. Members only, though we are allowed on the property to fill our jugs and look out the pretty pond and see the goats eating grass because people at the trout club don’t want to listen to lawnmowers, or maybe people with $3,000 to join a trout club have a thing for exotic goats. You can see the website here.
Part of my pleasure in going to the spring is the community of non-members filling jugs. It’s a very mixed crowd. Some people drive up in expensive SUVs and some people drive up in the rattiest pickups you’ve ever seen. The SUV people only get a few gallons. The truck people bring many 5 gallon jugs. I’m somewhere in the middle with a gas-efficient car and a lot of 1-gallon jugs.
We all do the obligatory head bob at each other and scrupulously keep our bottles away from their bottles, and keep our bottle caps separate from their caps. Sometimes we comment on the weather, such as “nice day” or “can you believe it’s this cold?” Only the intrepid and the truck drivers come in the winter. Then we do the head bob with a commiserating grimace as we get our hands wet with ice water.
Sometimes I think that the people around the spring are probably fascinating people with stories to tell, but nobody tells their stories, and I don’t know how to get them to tell. The old people have a healthy, kind look – the type of people who probably worked as naturalists who retired to a hobby farm with Amish neighbors. The truck drivers probably hunt out of season and have a deer hanging in their yard.
It’s a place where very different people collide, but it’s a polite and quiet place, and sometimes I need polite and quiet. It restores my soul to bob my head at people who value chlorine-free water without having to talk about anything other than the varying degree of overcast skies.
When all my bottles are filled, and my heart rate has dropped 20 or 30 points, I get back in my car and drive home, racing along the back roads, up and down giant hills, and back to society. Sometimes I sing, and sometimes I find room in my head to think about stuff I never have time to think about at other times. I drink my water every night and relish my indulgence, looking forward to my next trip to the trout club.