Tag Archives: water

You may call me the Queen of (bottled) Water

Last summer, I started handing out cold bottled water to the mail carrier on a slew of super hot days. It’s not unusual for me to be home during the day, especially in the afternoon when mail is delivered so I was able to do this. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. I guess I thought the mail carriers took care of themselves if I thought about it at all. One mail carrier I know who delivers another route showed me how he brings a cooler of chilled water with him in the mail truck. Maybe seeing that planted a notion in my mind.

When we had the occasional substitute I’d offer them water too. Nobody ever said no. They stop, look me in the eyes and say thank you. They seem so grateful. I know the feeling.

It’s a strange thing, but some of the strongest memories I have are times I was so parched and somebody handed ME a bottle of cold water or refilled my water bottle. I still remember how grateful I was ten years ago on a day I was participating in an outdoor festival and couldn’t leave my spot when an acquaintance handed me a 32 ounce bottle of water he’d bought. It was such a thoughtful gesture. I glugged it down.

It’s the simplest thing. The most basic need. You don’t think about it until you don’t have it.

This summer I was ready. Earlier in July I hauled home a 24-pack of bottled water from the store. Wedged it into my “wheelie cart” and pulled that sucker the mile to home. Don’t feel sorry for me – all exercise is GOOD exercise. It all counts. (People often want to dissuade me from exerting myself but baby, doin’ this sort of thing keeps me lean-n-mean. I want to as long as I can.)

My regular mail carrier seems to be AWOL this summer, perhaps gone permanently, and substitutes have been the norm. I’ve seen carriers I’ve never laid eyes on before. On wicked hot days, if I don’t greet them at the door, I might leave a chilled bottle with a note “For mail carrier” in the mailbox after I see the truck coming. I am so tickled when I see the water is gone.

I couldn’t stop there. The UPS guys, who work like the devil is after them with a pitchfork, and who habitually show up late in the day, clearly after hours of sweaty labor, are also water recipients. The only ones I haven’t offered water to yet are the Amazon delivery guys. In winter I saw my first “Amazon van.” Does your area have these? They are extra-long white vans with the Amazon logo printed on them. They are zooming daily all over my town now. Amazon makes me think of Wonka. Anyway, the Amazon delivery guys look a little rough and not too friendly so I’ve held back. But I want to be fair so maybe one of these days….

Doling out water is such a little thing but it creates a connection, a small meaningful interaction. It’s no trouble to me – the 24-pack of water cost about $2.50 on sale – and I feel like I’m doing something good. Recognizing someone’s humanity is always good. And it’s too easy sometimes to look past the humanity of service people. They are often in the background. Until they screw up – then we notice them. I’m GLAD I get mail delivery. Hell, they even dropped the price of a stamp! Did you know that?! I about fell out. Anyway, I am a strong believer in the importance of small gestures, like remembering to act like a decent human being not perpetually wrapped up in my own troubles and wants.

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Water, water everywhere, especially in me

This past week, for five consecutive days I drank the recommended eight glasses of water a day. I measured out 64oz each morning, so I wouldn’t be guessing, and also so I could handily see what I was up against. I mostly drink water anyway and a decent amount on a daily basis. Or so I thought. May I tell you that while a half-gallon of water is somewhat visually unimpressive, it is indeed a fuck of a lot of water to consume, in the middle of winter at that?

I know I drink more water in summer, but I wouldn’t have thought my winter intake too shabby. (Now that I think about it, I’ve never seen different recommendations depending on the seasons – which might make sense – it’s always eight 8-ounce glasses.) While other health directives seem to change over time, that one has stayed fairly constant.

Guidelines typically say other (non-caffeinated) beverages and even foods can count toward the total, but for my purposes last week, I found measuring 64oz out to be more exact, and further, I’m not going to try to calculate how much fluid is in an apple.

Water is essential to every level of our functioning. Many people don’t drink enough water. One of the oft-stated rules of thumb is that if you wait till you’re thirsty, you’re too late. Another is that fatigue is often a result of dehydration, so when you’re tired, you should reach for a glass of water. That one is my first line of defense when I feel sluggish. Hunger feelings can be assuaged by drinking water as well.

In fact, I actually felt a bit perkier during first couple days of my experiment. This may have been a sign that I was, in fact, dehydrated. Possibly from the drying effects of winter-heated rooms? Drinking all that water for five days definitely didn’t hurt me. The only thing was – it was really boring. Still, I’m going to make a point to commit to doing this, getting in the 64oz, more often, although probably on the occasional day basis, not for a whole week, during winter anyway.

Lake photos in winter

I live in a fairly (s)urbanized area that has pockets of lovely natural settings. Near me is a small, popular lake. No swimming, rare boating, some fishing, but mostly viewing – there’s a wide pedestrian path that circles it and it is regularly trod by many.

I visit the lake more in warmer weather, but then so does everybody else and it can be quite busy with picnickers, walkers, large groups, radios, kids, bikers, joggers, dogs, and so on. Also, mosquitoes and ticks are an issue in the summer, not to mention, frankly, the funky smell that wafts from the water.

I have been to this lake many times and while I have always appreciated it, I was able to see it with fresh eyes by taking pictures one day last week. (I’d taken the occasional photo in the past but only with film, so my photos were rationed and of questionable quality at that.) I went hog-wild and it felt very decadent to take so many shots. A few of them are really quite nice. I felt invigorated and exuberant when I was done. Being outside on a cold day, near water, and really focusing on my surroundings, moved my spirits.

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Nature Men (and Women) – but not me

I have long been intrigued by people, real and fictitious, who are competent in nature, and are, sometimes, more comfortable in the company of nature than that of people.

Jeremiah Johnson, based on an actual man, is one of my favorite films. I read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and Into the Wild with can’t-turn-away fascination. This past summer I read both Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.. And recently I watched the DVD North Face, based on a true pre-WWII mountain-climbing competition. While not obsessed, I’m drawn to these stories and return regularly to the genre, safely from my proverbial armchair.

It could be because fewer and fewer people learn and practice nature-friendly skills, I’m impressed by virtue of their rarity. It probably goes without saying that I lack these skills. But had I lived 100 years ago, would I think twice about somebody who could identify animal tracks or grow/raise/catch all their own food or live in the woods for weeks on end? Who could find safe water to drink or build a fire in the snow?

I think about my – most of our – dependence on others for almost every aspect of living. We lose electricity for a couple days and chaos ensues. All of my food, save a few herbs, comes from stores. If I was lost somewhere, I certainly couldn’t forage the land for edibles. I’m handy with a hammer and saw, but I’ve never constructed any kind of shelter. I sleep poorly on the ground.

Please know I don’t spend a lot of time fretting over these things and I’m not concerned enough to take wilderness courses or to stockpile goods. (My limited takeaway from what happened in New Orleans was that cash and water were the ideal supplies. And maybe a way to heat water or food.)

I don’t particularly like or relate to the alarmist sensibility that is not uncommon these days. The apocalyptic and survivalist ones, with their talk of emergencies, preparedness, and disasters. That’s not my reference point. I guess I more lament that learning a few basic skills about nature, about meeting your own needs, isn’t part of our education, no matter where someone grows up. I think it’s harder, like studying a foreign language later in life, than if it was picked up in childhood, so that a foundation is laid.

I suppose what I’m saying is I have no burning desire to learn how to skin a squirrel or run a combine (whatever that is; I think farms use them in producing crops or something). I just don’t like being quite so soft.