By Regena Handy
Early last week, my husband and I spent two days rebuilding the springhouse. Well, let me quickly rephrase that — my husband did the work, I mostly got in his way.
The old cover had been there for ages. I assume it was built by my dad around 1950 when the house was constructed, or possibly even by earlier owners. The roof finally “gave up the ghost,” as the saying goes, and partially caved in.
For years we had intended to put up a new shelter. But as with many good intentions, it just didn’t happen until necessity forced our hand.
It is a strong spring that effortlessly supports two houses. I never cease to be fascinated watching the continuous flow seep through the rocks surrounding the bowl, imagining the underground distance it travels.
The bowl holds icy water on the warmest day. I have memories of my father filling half-gallon mason jars early on mornings already promising high temperatures, which he then took to the sawmill with him. Often upon his return home, he would walk straight to the spring for a refill.
During my childhood, our cow would occasionally go dry and stop giving milk. My brother and I would go to a neighbor’s who kept several dairy cows and purchase milk from them. We would walk down to their springhouse where extra gallons cooled in the icy water.
Prior to his passing, one of my brothers’ spent weeks in Roanoke hospital. One day he made the comment that he sure would love a cold glass of good spring water. A couple of days later we filled a Mason jar and took the water to him. A nurse in his room looked askance at the frosty jar which we quickly pointed out was not what it might appear to be. She replied honey, even if it was, as bad as he feels, if it would help him, I’d say drink up.
Another story that points out the deliciousness of the water occurred when the boyfriend of a young relative attended a family gathering. He approached me and asked if he could have some water. Busy putting finishing touches on our meal, I told him to get a glass out of the cabinet and help his self. Now this young man was raised completely in the city and after retrieving a glass, he looked about the kitchen. I realized later that he was likely looking for a container of water. When he asked for the water, he seemed puzzled at my reply to just get it out of the faucet. Upon taking the first swallow, he appeared amazed and asked what we did to the water — that it was the best he had ever drunk.
So, on that note let me just say I hope that the new shelter protects this invaluable resource for a very long time. During these difficult days we are currently living through, self–reliance is even more important than ever. And there is little that we need more than pure water to sustain us.