Thursday, August 14, 2014

Doing Without

So, my family and I went up to one of our favorite family spots.
I wrote about it a couple of years ago: here.
It's called Silver Lake.

It should be called Sliver Lake....since it's just a tiny spot...a sliver in the woods.
Found in 1938 by my husband's grandmother, Mary Goni.
There's a cliff made of giant boulders.
A blue lake fed entirely by snowpack.
Pine trees, crown blue jays, chipmunks, bats that feast on the bugs at dusk and osprey.
Those osprey soar all over the lake, high up, searching for their perfect tasty morsel and then scoop that unsuspecting fish right out of the lake with the most amazing no-shirk-grip talons you've ever seen.
I've seen those birds snatch up their dinner many times and each time I'm the one who's unsuspecting...
wanting to yell, at somebody, anybody, "Did you just see that??!!"
A bird plucked a fish straight out of the lake!!
Can the bird get a standing O right now?
I feel like the guy from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom...full front row seat.

Visiting Silver Lake takes some concessions.
You have to be able to let go of the internet.
There's no cell
Off the grid.
This is both an endearing quality and a maddening one.

You have to let go of electricity.
You live by candlelight and roaring fires and get in the rhythm of the natural light.
I feel both Amish and woodsy in a Little House on the Prairie way that just works.
Don't mind it at all.

You have to let go of plumbing.
You use an outhouse at Silver Lake and it's actually completely fine.
Yes, you're in a house.  Yes, there are bathrooms and showers.
But, they just don't get used.
(Exceptions are made for very young children. Read: babies. But that's it.)

But this time...this time the well was dry.
Bone dry.
Not one single drip came out of the kitchen sink faucet.

It was eerie.
It was comical. (at first)
It was one more rung on the doing without ladder...and I wasn't expecting it.

True. California is in a severe drought.
True. We have always brought up a couple gallons of water just to be safe.
True. People stayed at the cabin before us and that doesn't usually happen.
Spoiler alert: I should have known better.

So, my family spent four days and used six gallons of water.
Six people and a dog.
6 gallons.
I developed wizarding skills that could rival Hermione in my dishwashing ability.
We got creative...and miserly...and downright scavengerish.
I even looked at Buddy's water bowl in a whole new way...resentfully.
(and I'm one of those crazy dog-loving people!)

Funny what a little deprivation feels like.

In truth, we had plenty to drink and eat.
We stayed in a house that sleeps 12.
It's just that it had no water.

It had a gorgeous lake to swim and canoe and kayak and play in.
It had rocks to climb.
Hikes to take.
Wildlife to watch.
Best of all, we were
Candlelight monopoly games.
Talking and laughing and just being together.
Sleepy mornings and fireside s'mores.

It's truthfully a little slice of heaven...
just without any water.

So, I watched my kids deal...and no complaints came.
The eight year old loved Silver Lake with even more abandon and wonder than last time.
The 15 year old was more worried about the lack of electricity for his Iphone.
The 19 year old was freaking out about trying the gigantic huge rope swing...steeling herself for the moment of truth.
The 21 year old...well, he got it.

It cut our time short.
It made me focus on something that's been in my peripheral vision for quite awhile.
I've been taking water for granted for far too long.
Mostly, it made me a sister to the millions of mothers who must walk to clean drinking water 
and carry it home.

Only for me, I knew I was a car ride away from that craziness,
 a long car ride, 
but still.

So tonight I am grateful for a faucet that runs...
grateful for a hot shower...
and a flushing toilet inside my home.

But mostly I'm grateful for those five people and one dog that graced my days at Silver Lake.
Sure, we weren't expecting to play a real life game of Survivor.
Sure, our kitchenware didn't win any cleanliness awards and 
we used way too many disposable dishes.

But we were together...
unplugged and in the candlelight...
it doesn't get any better.
Thank you Mary Goni.

Those kids don't even look thirsty!

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