A Glass of Water

Today’s post comes from Steve

A week ago I was hospitalized in an obscure room of Saint Paul’s United Hospital. My doctors were divided. Some wanted me to avoid all liquids. Some wanted to hydrate me immediately. Hours went by with all sorts of tests, and meanwhile I kept getting more desperately thirsty. I couldn’t talk because my tongue kept getting stuck to the roof of my dehydrated mouth. And then the decision came down: I could drink as much as I wanted. They serve cold water in paper cups in that hospital, with most of the space filled up with soft, easily crunched ice. I went on a crushed ice binge that was so joyful I almost wept as I chewed.

We should never take good drinking water for granted. The Saint Paul city water I get from the tap has won prizes for palatability. I keep a jug of it in the fridge, and it is a treat. Great water is the start of great coffee, which I appreciate. When I moved to Happy Valley, a suburb of Portland, the local water reeked of chlorine. I couldn’t bear drinking it, and coffee made from that water was grotesque. I had to install a filtering system before I could tolerate that water.

I was guilty of bad planning once, shortly after we moved to Oregon. Some family and friends decided on a whim to hike up a trail to a mountain peak overlooking Crater Lake. The trail was not short, and it ascended rapidly. We all began suffering from thirst in the 90-degree air. We finally hit the crest and could enjoy the view, but we all were in distress because we were so thirsty. Bright spring water bubbled out of the hillside. Water never looked so delicious, and yet we knew the prettiest spring water could be filled with giaradiasis, the dreaded “beaver fever” bug. As I recall, half of us were strong enough to resist the most tempting water we had ever seen. And in the end—which with giardiasis usually involves both ends of the body—nobody who drank that water got sick.

I was even thirstier than that once. I made a plan to “through-hike” the Superior Hiking Trail. Through-hiking means you start at one end and walk to the other end of a big trail. A day after hiking south from Grand Marais turned bad when I got confused by the trails. The Superior Hiking Trail itself is not terribly large or obvious, and on that afternoon I got lost when a bunch of smaller trails intersected with the SHT itself. It was August, blazing hot, and all streams along the trail were low. I knew I was in trouble when I began hearing traffic from Highway 61, which should have been well below me but was not. And then I found myself hiking the shoreline of the big lake.

Superior is so big and clean it is safe to drink in most places. Those places do not include shorelines, but I was not in a position to be picky. Out of my mind with thirst, I threw my body along the shore, plunged my head in the lake and began inhaling. I was there a long time. When I got up it seemed to me the lake had lowered a few inches, but I couldn’t be sure.

On the first BWCA trip I took with my father, we camped a week on a Lake called Bichu. It is a pretty place. But our campground did not give us access to water except right near shore, and my dad discovered that the lake water by the shore was absolutely filled with wriggling aquatic life. He solved the problem by dumping in enough grape Kool Aid so we couldn’t see the bugs we were drinking. That trip taught me several lessons about my father’s outdoor camping limits, but none were more memorable than the water that we drank, water surging with life if you allowed yourself to look.

Have you ever had especially good or bad water? How did you cope? What do you do now for drinking water? Ever get really, really, really thirsty? Have you found a way to justify drinking water from single-use plastic bottles?

75 thoughts on “A Glass of Water”

  1. Our tap water tastes very good and I’m sure won’t cause me harm but I did notice while daily changing the Birds watering dish a certain slimy feel to the plastic. So I started giving them distilled water which I already use for my CPAP reservoir. The slimy feel is gone.
    The farmer I worked for one season had a well that gave horrible, iron tasting water. His family loved it but I couldn’t take it and despite driving the tractor all day didn’t drink anything until getting back home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Our daughter, when about 14, attended horse camps in west central Minnesota. The water had that rusty taste. I still view that moment with anxiety, for the water battles became ferocious. The camps refused to let her bring water from home. She refused to drink their water. It got ugly.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Our ground water is very alkaline, and much of it is only drinkable with extensive home purification systems. Our city water and almost all of the farms and ranches here have water from the Missouri River and the Lake Sakakawea reservoir provided by a rural water agency. It is really good water. Southwest Minnesota is getting rural water now, too. Luverne ‘s water was always nasty. Now it is much better.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Minerals occur naturally in water all over the world. Which minerals, and in what quantities depends on the source of the water. For instance, the water in Stubbekøbing was naturally high in fluoride, a fact that my dad attributed to our family’s strong, healthy teeth to. My late friends, Mike and Anne, had water that was so rich in iron when they lived near Northfield, that you could smell it, and it turned their bathtub around the drain rust colored.

          My late friend and neighbor, Deidra, was a nut about water. She studied it, advocated for its protection and preservation, and knew a lot about it. I’ve listened to many of her passionate lectures on that subject. There is a lot of interesting, and some controversial and downright bizarre beliefs about water out there. Unfortunately, a lot of people take this precious resource for granted and squander it in shameful ways. Safe, clean drinking water is a precious commodity, and if it tastes good, too, that’s a definite plus. I confess that though I know water is good for me, I don’t drink enough of it. Now that I’m thinking about it, I think I’ll go get myself a glass.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Reply to Plane Jane. You probably know the oft-quoted requirement of eight glasses a day is bogus. There are theories about how that advice came to be promoted, but the bottom line is that our needs for water are more flexible than that.


  3. Our German made dishwasher has a reservoir for water softening salt. I had never seen that before we got this dishwasher.


  4. There was a big mess in Portland when I lived there. The city’s drinking water comes from a pair of watersheds (big reservoirs) that are fenced off from the public. When I lived there some kids got drunk, scaled the fences and peed in the city drinking water. You wouldn’t believe how wild that controversy became. The authorities tried to ban any use of that water, although you have to wonder how much pee could come out of a few tiddly teenagers.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. We have a well in our backyard, and the well water is piped into the house into a tank that filters it, and then back out to a faucet on the side of the house. We don’t use that water. We could use it instead of city water, but the tank needs a new bladder inside it to provide pressure, and whenever we used it to water the lawn, the grass never looked good. I just don’t trust it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I lived in Graham and Lynn’s field, they had a new well put in a hundred yards from my caravan, which they never used after all. It was good water, and I bet I’m the only one who’s ever used it.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I don’t recall ever being desperately thirsty. I don’t drink as much plain water as I should; it just doesn’t occur to me.

    Minneapolis water is supposed to be pretty good. Nevertheless I have rigged a filter designed to be for the whole house to filter just the cold water in the kitchen. The replaceable filters are a solid block of carbon. Of course it only does any good as long as I remember to replace the filter now and then.

    For some reason, this topic brought to mind stories I’ve heard about what has been found when municipalities cleaned out their water towers:

    I think if I were visiting a small town, I could justify bottled water, just for peace of mind.


    1. Before I lived in Saint Paul we lived in Minneapolis, with a totally different drinking water supply. Minneapolis draws its water from the Mississippi. There used to be a time in late summer when Minneapolis water would become disgustingly pungent. We were always assured the water was clean, but some kind of thing bloomed and made the water smelly.


    2. You don’t recall having been desperately thirsty? That’s more evidence I’ve led a somewhat strange life. I’d say desperately thirsty happens several times a year. On my two SHTA hikes I was desperately thirsty almost every day.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Here is an anomoly: Mankato water out of the tap is putrid. Across the river in North Mankato the water is wonderful. (Another anomoly, with hsitorical explanation: small parts of Manakto are on the west side of the Minnesota Riverm, which should be North Mankato. I will leave it to you to explain why.)
    Bottles water–avoided it for years, but Sandy started not drinking Mankato water filter in a simple filter pitcher. Filter helps a lot. She does not hydrate well. So I bought her bottles water. It helped her water consumption a great deal. Now I have it in her refrigerator in the nursing home. She does not want to drink it. But I make hot decaf tea every afternoon, out of tap water. She drinks that, and every so often a small bottle of water. Many places, restaurants and bars for instance, and the nursing home have a major filtering system for their water.
    A former student once shared a number from somewhere. A bottle of that water costs on the order of 10,000 times as much as tap water. I routinely see people at Cub taking out 24 or 48 bottles. Cirty water on this side is terrible.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. A quick follow up. Late evening about two weeks ago I shared a story. Briefly: my SSN happens to be the name number as a bunsiness EIN/TIN. How stupid was the IRS to assign a 9 digit number for that. Hyphens are placed different, but search engines ignore the hyphens. IRSs ays that cannot happen, but I have heard of two other instances, which caused people problems.
    When Blue Earth County does a search of my SSN, they get a report that I have an account with Chase bank under an incorrect name. Who thinks that sounds like I am hiding money. There is no Chase bank here, about the only chain that isn’t here. This town is so over-banked. To access herlp you have to have an account number, which I don’t have. My son talked to a manager of a branch near him in Idaho. she told him how I could get through. Did it twice to same result. They can tell me my number is in a business account, but they cannot tell me name of company or will not provide documentation.
    Finally yesterday the county was allowed to take a verbal statement from a bank employee, which took an hour on the phones for the county person and I, a wonderful woman, to get that verification. This took 5 weeks to resolve.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sounds like a joke, but the history of water consumption in this country is more exotic than you would know. Johnny Appleseed and his apples were once terribly important in the US because cider was pure but water almost never was. It was healthier to drink cider than water. People used to drink hard cider at church and other community gatherings.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I grew up in a very small town (< 500) and each family had a well – our pump was in the basement next to the oil tank. That water was superb tasting. When I got to high school age, the town built a water tower so we could have "city water". My folks switched to that and the water never tasted as good. I drink water almost exclusively and use tap water (St. Paul/White Bear Lake area). I rarely buy bottled water – mostly when traveling internationally because I don't trust local water in many of the places I have been. All those plastic bottles are horrible for the environment. Bottled water companies have made a mint off of selling what is most likely tap water to people here in the US who have perfectly safe drinking water from their taps. I realize there are places in this country where the water tastes terrible, but I think that is the minority. Water filters are a much more environmentally friendly alternative. I'll get off my soapbox now.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. When a product is obviously deleterious to the environment, it is easy to criticize people who use it. But single-use bottled water is so doggone convenient I can’t hate people who rely on it.

    I used to walk my dog (Katie) along the Mississippi every morning. One summer day we had a heavy rain that obviously was going to lead to trouble. In fact, the rain I’m remembering might have killed some city workers who were in the water system when the rain hit.

    The day after the big rain was something I’ll never forget. All that rain had washed empty water bottles into the sewer system and ultimately into the Mississippi itself. It looked like the whole river, bank to bank, was covered with plastic water bottles, almost like you could have walked across the river on all that stuff. As pollution goes, a plastic water bottle is relatively benign, and yet I was horrified by the sight of hundreds of thousands of bottles on the surface of the river I love.


    1. Jane and Isaac drink water out of bottles, but I have a stock of bottles saved when John and Sandra give me their recyclables to take away. I sterilise and refill them with filtered water.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is sort of ancillary but I have had some experience as a dowser. In a couple of instances I have located a water source for people where prior attempts had proved unsuccessful.
    It used to be common, where folks relied on wells for water, for there to be a local dowser.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for mentioning that, Bill. My experience with dowsing was walking around with dowsing sticks, and I believe I found a signal that water was nearby. Dowsing used to be a weird topic that I assumed was silly, but then acupuncture didn’t make any sense to me at first. Without having strong opinions, I’m inclined to believe dowsing can work.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I’ve seen a guy try it when looking for buried tile lines. That didn’t work.
        But I’ve also seen a guy use two wires to find buried electrical lines, and that did work.


    2. I usually use a forked branch. Traditionally it would be hazel but the kind doesn’t really matter as long as it’s flexible. Willow works well.

      I’ve seen dowsers use two L-shaped copper rods which they hold like pistols. When the rods swing together they have their spot.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. We have really good drinking water and I’m told it’s because we have a fairly shallow well at 145′. Most new wells would be 300’+ deep, and then it’s rusty.
    Last time we had our submersible pump replaced, the guy was able to determine the depth of the water at 45′.

    We have a ‘well house’ with a pressure tank inside. Back when my folks got married, Mom said she did not want to be pregnant and still using an out house. They got married in 1948 and dad had water in the house the next summer. First child born in the fall… so she was at least a little pregnant and using the outhouse.
    Then he got water down to the barn. Tells me he bought dynamite from the lumber yard and blasted a trench through the rock. There was a can of blasting caps in the yard that I finally disposed of in the 1990’s.

    I remember the old ‘pump jack’ type water pump and if the electricity went off, dad would park the tractor in the yard and hook a canvas belt between the pump and belt pulley on the tractor.
    But then we went to submersible pumps… There’s a hole in the well-house roof that’s easy to pull out when they need to replace it.

    My grandma wouldn’t drink soft water. When she visited we’d go outside and get her a pitcher of water. And still, water out of the hose is the BEST water.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I seem to be thirsty all the time, but can’t recall being desperately thirsty – of course, I almost have a water bottle with me – I re-use some individual juice bottle and keep washing them out… usually have two or three ready to go by the back door.

    Best water I’ve ever had was at Miller Spring in Bloomington, a mile north of the Lion’s Tap – just this free-running spout that they had built a support for. We would haul make an afternoon of it – drive the half mile south from Robbinsdale, fill about 40 gallon jugs – a combination of glass cider and plastic milk jugs). Sometime we’d also stop there for a burger, esp. when Joel was a kid, and his cousin lived with us. There would usually be a line of cars waiting, and some folks would hike up the “mountain” next to the stream. Nice panorama of the Minnesota River Valley at the top.

    We have a gizmo (“inherited” from our friend W), called a water activator – here is a bit from one I just found online:
    “The Molecular Resonance Effect Technology (MRET) Water Activator creates a subtle, low-frequency electromagnetic field which is imprinted into the water. … Activated Water has many special physiological properties, making it ideal to restore the body’s quota of structured bio-available water.” Has the effect of making us feel like we’ve done something to improve the city water.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. When we lived in Southampton the water tasted awful, and I’d only use it when it was filtered, Here it’s even worse, it’s full of lime in both places. I grew up with soft water in Devon and that’s what I like.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Baboon friends who visited my cabin near Cornucopia will remember there was no running water up there. People drove to a little arbor just east of town where spring water bubbled up out of the ground. Someone attached a pipe to that and fitted the pipe with a ball valve. People would bring big plastic containers and fill them with pure spring water. The water kept coming whether there was a person present or not. It amused me that the spring was fitted with a ball valve so you could turn the water off when you were done . . . only the water kept running, but it ran directly into the big lake out of sight so people wouldn’t feel they had walked away leaving the water running.

    That was gorgeous water. We began taking home big jugs of it to make coffee with it at home. Then one day I did a test and decided the Cornucopia spring water was no better or worse than the city tap water.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Barbara, the water from that spring in NW Wisconsin was impossible to resist. The way it bubbled and spouted was so lovely, and the water itself was wonderful. The setting, tucked away along a beach of Lake Superior, was part of the charm. Going for water, while a nuisance, was a primal activity that felt right.


      2. It’s just a guess, but to me the temperature of spring water is perfect. I’d put it close to 40 degrees, which is deliciously cool and yet not so cold it numbs your mouth. That’s the best temperature for serving many ales and beers, too.


    1. I remember going with you to that spring to fill a couple of large containers with water when we visited your cabin. That would have been in 2011 or 2012 would be my guess.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That was our only water supply for most of the time we owned that property. We briefly had a scheme that pumped water up from the lake. Something about traveling to town to collect lovely fresh water just seemed right, as you might recall.


  16. There used to be a popular spring near Adrian, MN that people would go to to get water for special occasions, like making coffee for a gatherings. Eventually it was found to be contaminated by nitrates from local farms, and declared a health hazard.


    1. The Smith Brewery on W. 7th St. in St. Paul used to have a place where you could tap ancient well water, for free, from a tap. People would line up and bring all kinds of jugs to fill and haul home. Nowadays you pay for it by the gallon and through a vending machine, I think. It has lost it’s allure to me, though admittedly I only went a few times to collect the free water.


  17. I’ve written before about working in a silk screen processing plant that was torridly hot in summer. In addition to all the sweaty heat of an Iowa summer day you had 36 heat lamps to dry the silk screened products (like sweatshirts with college logos). That place was so hot it had several refrigerated water machines. The medical thinking back then was sweating profusely caused you to dehydrate but also to lose salt. So our water fountains had huge bottles of pills beside them, pills that were pure salt. At break time you’d rush to the fountain, knock down several paper cups of water and throw in a fistful of salt pills. I only remember one worker, a young Italian woman, fainting dead away in that place. It was HOT!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. OT – Don’t know if this is of interest to anyone in the Twin Cities, but here is the pertinent information regarding Jerry Rau’s celebration of life event this coming weekend.
    -Proof of vaccination needed at gate.
    A Celebration of Jerry Rau
    Sunday, Oct. 31st, 2021
    1:00 to 5:00 pm
    **at the Hook & Ladder Theater*****
    3010 Minnehaha Ave South

    Music Schedule:
    1:00 – Bill Staines – ‘Only Remembered’

    1:10 – Adam Granger – 1 song

    1:15 – Curtiss & Loretta

    1:30 – Dakota Dave

    1:45 – Denise Braus & Mark Hoornbeek

    2:00 – Steve Kremer

    2:15 – Phil Heywood

    2:30 – Mad Jack & the Black Label Boys
    (Bob Bovee & Pop Wagner & Bob Douglas)

    2:45 – Charlie Maguire

    3:00 – Dean Magraw

    3:15 – Jack Klatt

    3:30 – Dale Dahlquist & The Riff Rangers

    3:45 – Jan Marra

    4:00 – John Ashton

    4:15 – Ron Miles / Laurie McLain

    4:30 – Larry Long

    4:45- Sherry Minnick

    4:55 –
    Closing – ‘A Parting Glass’ – Carol Buche, Bill Staines, and Everyone.

    If you want to bring a photo board or any thing else to display, there will be room inside.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It’s really a wonderful lineup, BiR, a virtual, augmented, who’s who of the Twin Cities traditional music scene, and a real testament to Jerry’s quiet presence in it. I need to find someone who is willing to cover my three hour date with Philip, maybe switch dates. I’ll be working on that tomorrow. We shall see. I want to go, I hope to go.

        Liked by 2 people

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