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bucket of waterI love buckets.  Buckets of water, hauling water.  Buckets are great.  When I need water I go down there to fill them up, and then I bring them up here, and I have water.  It’s so simple.  I don’t pay anyone to get water, I don’t pay anyone to fix any pipes when they stop working.  It’s great.”

Edge declared his love for hauling water as he filled up a pot on the stove to heat dish water.  We’ve been hauling 5-gallon jugs from the greenhouse, where our frost-free hydrant is, up to the yurt for over a month.  The line attached to our indoor hand-pump froze in the first round of -25° weather, and in the subsequent arctic vortexes that have washed over us, we’ve not gotten it thawed.  So we wait for spring, and in the meantime, we haul water.

In our last yurt, where we lived on Applecheek Farm, hauling water was our only option, and in Alaska, where we met, water-hauling was the norm.  In fact, in the four years that Edge and I have known each other, we’ve only lived with running water for about three months.  Lately, I’ve been pining for the ease of a faucet and shower, but not Edge.  He loves buckets.

And I admit, there is something I love about them, too.

Last Tuesday I stayed home from work, in need of a mental health day, and after spending the morning writing and then taking a walk in the woods, I did the sheep chores, filled and hauled water back up to the yurt, and then chopped and stacked a pile of maple Edge had pulled from the woods.  When my mom drove up to drop Waylon off, she got out of the car and said, “You’re working hard for a mental health day.”

“Chop wood, carry water,” I replied. So much of our mental health is tied to our physical health, and the strain of my muscles working in these simple acts allowed my mind to clear and find peace in the rhythm of the chopping and the splash of the water.

Aldo Leopold, in his book A Sand County Almanac, wrote, “There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”  Indeed, anyone who harvests, chops, and stacks wood knows that heat is generated in each act, long before the wood ever reaches the stove, but even hauling water from the barn to the yurt warms my body.

A deep appreciation is cultivated through the act of hauling water.  I know the energy it takes to fill a glass, to fill a basin for washing, to pour a cup of tea.  So much of the connection is lost with faucets–the energy it takes to spurt water from the pipe becomes a distant memory too easy to forget.  But fill a bucket, carry it inside, and you will pause when you pour that water out.

Enjoy the pause, drink in the moment.

Tonight, our buckets are full, and I am thankful for the water they hold.  So let us drink, and in the morning, we will haul them again.