I have been reading all the posts on the You Know You are From Culpeper… Facebook page, enjoying the photos. Like many of you, I have been transported to that magical—if not mythical—land of nostalgia: a place where our minds remember wonderful, happy times, void of trouble and challenges.
That is the nature of nostalgia, regardless of its accuracy. Nonetheless, it is fun and, often, very therapeutic.
I seem to have fallen into the rather interesting position of telling stories and mind you, the word “stories” should not infer fiction. No, the fun for me about the stories I share is that they are true, or as true as I can either remember or document.
One particular summer holds very vivid memories.
Until about 10 years ago, the water supplied to the house here on the farm originated in a spring rather than a well. Like most springs, it was located at the bottom of a hill and we were most fortunate to have a heavy-duty pump that drove it up the incline and into the house. It was indeed the best tasting water around. As testament, every week friends would arrive from town with empty gallon containers to carry this precious elixir back home.
It was a simple setup that was used to manage the water. A pump house was about half way down the hill and below that was a structure of unknown material and age that captured and held a large supply of spring water. The water filled to a level between the exit pipe to the pump house and the overflow pipe.
Then, to ensure that all surface runoff was routed away from the tank, Dad designed a series of berms that channeled runoff beyond the tank and into the creek that fed the pond.
Maintenance was critical. The berms were kept in tip top shape and the creek below the tank that enabled a regular flow out of the tank through the overflow pipe was kept open.
It was an annual Spring ritual to dig out the banks of this creek. When the job, much later in life, fell to me, I dreamed of and finally acquired a front end loader for the tractor. Wow! This made digging out that creek immensely easier! But I digress; let’s get back to that memorable summer.
Life was good until some little crayfish dug a hole in the wall below the feeder pipe to the pump house. I never saw the critter, but fully accepted the explanation of my elders. I am guessing you have figured out the result—there was no water arriving up the hill at the house.
Fortunately, it was the middle of summer as it took about six weeks to rebuild the system and another week or two for the new cistern to fill. This time Dad would leave nothing to happenstance or the next family of crawdads. This tank would be made of concrete.
While the contractor blasted with dynamite through the rock where the new cistern would be placed, all of us young’uns took our baths in the pond. Water was hauled to the house to flush the toilet and water for cooking was brought in from the neighbor’s place. Once, before they placed the lid on the cistern, we took turns swimming in the icy cold spring water.
It was a splendid adventure and no doubt, has provided the wherewithal to survive any current-day loss of water supply.
Until next week, be well.