This I Believe

Patricia - Peoria, Illinois
Entered on November 27, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in water. As long as I can remember, I have been drawn to water like a moth to the flame. Growing up on a farm in the 50’s and 60’s in the Midwest, our most exciting bodies of water were the county ditch, the horse tank, and large puddles. However, unlike today’s slight indentations, my ditch was home to beaver, muskrat, fish, frogs and tadpoles. Hours were spent examining sections of the ditch and hoping to spot a swimming muskrat entering the underwater entry to its den. I had countless dreams of my own home having an underwater doorway.

The horse tank was large and had to be kept unfrozen all winter for the livestock. On scorching hot summer days, our German shepherd would cool off by jumping into it. I was so envious. Drenching rains would fill the smaller ditches and low spots would have several inches of clear water to play in for a couple of days. If it was too cold to physically be in the water, we would make small boats out of leaves or bark and float precious items across the great expanse of the puddles.

I remember the delicious fear I experienced when I was learning how to swim, being encouraged to put your face in the water, learning to trust the water to support you, and, the otherworldliness of swimming underwater. I became a proficient swimmer, and whenever I am around or on water in warm weather, I will probably end up in the water.

Growing up, our family vacation destination was usually a small lake in Wisconsin with a sandy lake house, a dock, gentle waves and a row boat. As a young adult, I traveled to the Pacific Ocean and was mesmerized by the power and majesty of the ocean and waves, the clarity of the water and the freshness of the salty sea air. On one trip, I hiked and camped in the Big Sur Mountains. While hiking, you could smell the ocean before you rounded the curve in the path and saw it in all its magnificent vastness. The campsite was at the base of the mountain alongside a mountain stream which emptied into the ocean via a stunning, horseshoe cove. Water is what I remember most about two other more recent trips: snorkeling at Xel Ha in Mexico – a mixture of spring-fed river and seawater, and swimming for hours with my family in the perfect sea at a small beach on the Isle of Capri.

Growing up, water was my beverage of choice (and the occasional glass of milk), never soda, root beer or saccharine sweet lemonade. By the time I was six, I was already a connoisseur of water. Hospitalized for two days after my tonsillectomy, I couldn’t drink the town water at the hospital. My mom and dad brought cool, mineral-rich well water from the farm for me to drink – AAAHH! Granted, I’ve since added a few more beverages – coffee, tea, and wine – but, forced to choose, I would still pick water.

I cannot imagine living anywhere that water is scarce and yet, so many people do who have no choice. Sadly, what water they have is often the source of filth, poison or disease and my heart goes out to them. What is more puzzling to me is how many people elect to live where they must rely on imported water. I believe that, in the near future, because of the shortsightedness of political leaders, the greed of business people, and yes, each of us and our complacency, there will be more battles and disruptions over water than there have been over oil. Heaven help us all if we don’t do everything possible to conserve and cherish this most precious of natural gifts – clean, cool water. This, I believe.