A Glimpse of the Past
by Cait Collins
I’ve come to realize how pampered I am. The boiler system for my apartment complex broke down and we’ve been without hot water for several days. Frustrating, absolutely. I’m so used to turning on the tap and out comes an unlimited amount of hot water. But for the past few days, I’ve had to get up half an hour early to heat water for a bath and to wash my hair. The inconvenience caused me to think about times when hot, running water was not available.
Think about early settlers who had to dig a well, draw the water, and build a fire to heat the water. Imagine a 100 degree Texas Panhandle afternoon, stoking the fireplace just to have hot water. It gives new meaning to Saturday night baths.
Our forefathers were made of sterner stuff. No grocery stores to provide fresh produce and butchered meat. Of course not. They tilled the soil, planted seeds, and nurtured the growing plants. The harvest was canned or preserved to provide food during the moths between the harvests. As a child, I helped weed our garden. We’d buy vegetables from roadside stands, and mom would rope all of us into shelling peas and snapping beans. She’d can or freeze the prepared veggies. She made pickles, jams, and jelly. I think of the hours my mother spent making sure her family had good food to eat.
I wish I’d listened to the stories of hog butchering and wringing a chicken’s neck. Or grinding meat into sausage and stuffing the ground meat into casings. Maybe if I had listened, I would better appreciate what I have now.
And maybe, I could use that knowledge to spice up some characters. Think about the hermit who has chosen to live in an area where there is no indoor plumbing, no electricity, and no running water. The closest water is the creek that’s a couple of hundred yards away. In the winter, snow is melted for drinking water. How would I describe him? How would I structure his day? What made him decide to live without modern conveniences? There are so many possibilities for this scenario.
I do not long for the good old days. I like my creature comforts. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate my forefathers and their “can do” attitudes. It makes me wonder what they’d think of their children. I’ll also admit I’ve been pretty grump these past few mornings. But there is a silver lining to the inconvenience. At least I didn’t have to haul the water from the nearest playa lake. Man, I don’t even want to think about that.