In the midst of that very “first world” problem there were teachings from Water. Things we learned, discussed and grew from. I will share them with you now.
Relationship with Water
How strange our relationship with water is. How absolutely dependent we are on it, yet how utterly disrespectful we are in return.
The dynamics of this relationship didn’t become fully apparent to me until our well ran dry. Having grown up in suburbia I had never experienced a time when I didn’t have water. Twenty minute shower were only frowned upon because of the cost; not because of the use of water. Never did we discuss how precious this resource is to us.
As an adult female human I am approximately 55% water. More than half of who I am is made up of water. If you stop to think about that, you realize the wonder and awe that is water. We cannot live without this resource yet we abuse and waste it at every turn. Utterly baffling…
Our Saving is in Science Fiction
Okay I am joking here… but only a little bit. The first time it was brought to my attention that water should be treated as precious was when I read the book Dune for the first time. Sounds silly I know, but science fiction has always been on the forefront of political, environmental and scientific activism. It has long been predicting trends in science, potential threats to our ecosystem and the doom of humankind. If you are a Star Trek fan all I need to say is “the one with the whales” and you will understand these trends I speak of.
Back to Dune…
There is a lovely scene between Paul (Muad’Dib) and Chani that brought the idea of the sacredness of water to my then, teenage existence. Chani is a Freman from a desert planet called Arrakis. Water is scarce in her world and is not to be wasted. In fact many of the Freman wear water reclamation suits as a means of survival. Not a single drop is wasted. Upon meeting the main character Paul, she is immediately struck by how “water fat” he is, having grown up on a world like ours. She speaks to him of how people from water planets waste it and do not realize how precious and valuable it is. She speaks of the power that water holds to her and her people.
We, as North Americans, are water wasters. We are water wasters of the worse kind. We are also water abusers.
This becomes very apparent when your well runs dry and you realize how much of your day to day life is utterly dependent on water. Some of our water use is for our very survival. A female of my size requires approximately 2.2 litres of water a day to keep our body’s hydrated and functioning. This is survival. But in so many ways we waste this resource and for what purpose?
We Waste and We Waste
Did you know that ultra-low flush toilets use 6 litres of water per flush? Older toilets can use up to 13.6 litres! That is enough water to keep 6 adult humans well hydrated for a day. The water wastage of the “modern” plumbing systems is heart-breaking. As I type this there are people with absolutely no water. There are communities with none, towns with barely enough water to survive and whole countries that are parched. Yet we waste litres so we can flush away our human waste.
At one point did we make the decision to use water in this way? When our well ran dry my husband and I spoke of this very fact. We were frustrated that composting toilets were illegal in our area. Illegal in our entire province and country for that matter (except for unassumed townships as is my understanding). It is illegal for me to find a way to NOT waste water in this fashion.
Did you know that the “average” family of four people does 8-10 loads of laundry per week? A high efficiency washing machine uses anywhere from 57-114 litres (depending on load size). For that we can keep 26-52 adult humans alive for a day. A weeks worth of laundry could save the lives of a small town.
How privileged and lucky we are to wash an item when it has been sweated in briefly, or has a tiny stain. How would we survive if we could not do laundry whenever we felt like? How often have you tossed a shirt or a pair of pants in the hamper when it could have been worn again… and maybe even again?
These realities smacked us in our face as we lived for a brief period of time with no water. It was brief, thanks to a decent well recovery rate, but it was long enough to teach us a valuable lesson.
The Fight for Our Waters
As a herbalist I have had the privilege and honour of hearing many local Anishinabe peoples speak of the importance of our Waters. I cried when they told stories of how the water used to be before the new comers arrived. How rivers went from vibrant and alive to polluted and toxic. I wept at the knowledge that many of their communities are without clean water; yet we live on their land. I felt a surge of joy and energy to see so many people fighting for the waters of this land! I felt hope as I saw the groups of people fighting for change grow ever stronger.
What started as a glimmer of realization from a science fiction novel, has become a key thought in my every day life.
The running dry of our well was a message from Water and we heard it loud and clear. Unfortunately to save all the water we can would be illegal. I am an old fashioned soul living in a modern world – a world with rules and laws that I must follow. I am not allowed to catch rain water and filter it for consumption. I am not allowed to abandon my septic system for less wasteful ways. However I can flush less. I can wash my clothes when they really need it, not simply because I wore it once. I can shower less often.
We have always been very conservative with our water. We catch rain for our gardens and save our grey water for them during drought years as well. But now we are even more cautious of its use. For many their well running dry is a burden and inconvenience. For us it was a teaching that we are all grateful for.
What Does This Have to Do With Me?
You may be asking yourself why I wrote about such a topic. Isn’t this blog about herbalism and homesteading? If you are indeed confused as to the purpose of this blog post let me be very clear.
We can’t grow food without water.
We can’t grow medicines without water.
We can’t raise animals without water.
In fact we can’t homestead or practice any form of herbal medicine without water. We owe Water our very life; our very existence. Don’t you think we should at least try to be respectful in return?
In peace and love,
P.S. Please pin for future reference and to help save our Waters!