In spite of good intentions and best efforts, we all know that more often than not a detail or two is likely to get overlooked. It was somewhere in the wee hours of the night, at the time of the month when the moon has gone into temporary hiding, that my bladder awakened me. There was absolutely nothing with which to visually orient myself. Eyes open, eyes closed, it made no difference. I must have gone blind! But then I remembered that the electric lights which had illuminated the house during the late evening (one bulb per room), were powered by a generator, and I deducted correctly that the generator had been switched off for the night. Kate, in all her giftedness as a hostess, had forgotten to inform me of this little fact and provide me with a handheld dim solar lamp for night trips to the bathroom. There was no ignoring this urge. I was just going to have to find my way to the bathroom by Braille. By lining my body up along the edge of the bed and pointing myself toward where I remembered the door to be, I held my arms straight out in front of me and stepped very slowly through the pitch blackness until my fingers found the far wall. Once the door was open and I had stepped into the hallway, I stopped to recreate a mental map of the house and instruct myself where the bathroom was, or at least where I was pretty sure it had been the one time I had used it before going to bed. Running my hands along the wall and taking slow steps, I came to the open doorway and stepped inside and closed the door quietly behind me, hoping I really was in the bathroom and not in someone's bedroom, then kept my right hand lightly against the wall as I moved slowly toward the other end of the long open room with my left arm out in front of me, just in case. (Hey! Don't judge me for my just in case posture unless you have walked in my bare feet on a cold floor searching for a bathroom in the middle of an African night!) I knew that if I weren't careful I'd smack either my toes or my shins against the bucket of water sitting next to the toilet, so I took it very slowly until my foot made contact with the bucket, then took care of business and reversed the trip back to my bed in like manner.
Right around the time the first hint of daylight was almost ready to grace the morning sky, the roosters began singing their rooster songs. It was then that I learned that a rooster is a rooster is a rooster in any language. Loud. Insistent. Getupgetupgetupgetupgetup!
But after the first three dozen cockadoodles I fell back to sleep and awoke at a more reasonable hour.
Remembering the instructions about bathing that I had gotten the evening before, I figured there was no better time to learn to draw water from a well than now, so I headed quietly out the front door with bucket in hand and found Heather already there with her bucket. Heather is a young lady from Charlotte who is living with the McHargue family this year to homeschool their children, so she has already had five months of experience with these primitive routines of daily life. Following her example, I took my turn with the rope and pulley. The buckets hold about 3 gallons of water, but the pail in the well holds about 1-1/2 gallons, which means the pail must be dropped into the depths and hauled up twice for each bucketful. I must admit that I was pretty proud of myself.The next step, after carrying the bucket of water into the house and placing it next to the shower pan, was to scoop out a pitcher of water, pour it into a kettle on the stove in the kitchen, and heat it up. Finally the bucket was warmed enough to pour over my head without making me scream, and for the first time in my life I realized the value of a drop of water. I didn't want to waste one ounce. In the end, including shampooing and conditioning my hair, I used a total of 3 quarts of water. How many times have I allowed the shower at home to run for five minutes before stepping into it? Just like good health is never fully appreciated until we've been through a period of sickness, I now had a vastly improved appreciation not only for the gift of water, but for the blessing of warm water flowing out of a spigot! There wasn't a doubt in my mind that every task involving water that I had ever performed could be done with less. Much less. This week I was going to find out.