John Boston | O Dearest Water, Where Would I Be Without You?

Many are those who have more problems than me. Still. I love to visit my health club’s Olympic-sized pool and wash away my sins, my pressures, shortcomings and regrets. Sometimes, before I even start that first lap, I’ll just submerge, in a sitting position and glance about. No deadlines, appointments, sharks, Democrats or even human company where I might, by habit, stumble into being a someone who I am not. What is it about demons that they don’t like the water?

I vote we keep it that way.

Just the other day, I learned I had been worshipping a tiny false god. Since I was a kid, I had always heard that the human body is 97% water. It ain’t. On average, the average human is about 60% H20. Some of us are a dehydrated 50% and others slosh when they walk at 75%. Newborn babies? They tap out also at 75%. Tomatoes are 93.5% water. Baby tomatoes? Sorry. I’ve no idea. 

I was watering the other day. One of the both divine and frustrating byproducts of water is the sprinkler. I’m sure, somewhere, maybe at Bill Gates’ house, there’s a sprinkler system that works flawlessly. Life-giving water actually hits grass and plants instead of sidewalks or the contact lenses of guileless pedestrians. Somewhere there’s a yard where a sprinkler doesn’t leak, or miss, leaving an odd-shaped brown dad spot of dichondra.

I know.

They’re called golf courses.

Or, Astroturf.

I can catch up with myself when I water by hand. At first, I meet with my frenetic self. He’s the guy always three weeks in the future, fretting that there are more important things to do with my valuable time than soak the front of my pants with a leaky nozzle. I start calculating how long this chore will take, then worry that I’ll miss a spot. But, after a few minutes, I’m lost in the mindless task, satisfied by the calming sound of water hitting first dry ground, then thankfully gurgling and plopping as it has reached saturation point.

Did you know you can make ice cubes out of plain, simple water?

I think in all of us, many of our fondest memories involve two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen.

I remember herding cattle in Colorado many years ago. A shiny black Labrador retriever with a can-do attitude kept us company. We galloped over a ridge and were greeted by a beautiful lake. A few hundred ducks had just gracefully glided onto the mirrored surface. Our canine friend would have none of that. He bounded like some great goofball, cannonballing into the frigid alpine water and scattered the skein of mallards. I still swear that dog had the biggest village idiot smile when he trudged out of the lake, as if to say: “Hey! Did you guys see what I just did?”

I remember dragging big 20-foot twist-lock aluminum irrigation pipes at the ranch. I never got used to that smell of Newhall groundwater. I always made a face after opening a valve and that stench of local sulfur burped. It made for tasty alfalfa. I remember being a lifeguard at Castaic and an hour sitting in the tower seemed like three days. The sun reflected itself a billion times on those choppy waves. I’ll never forget the big double porcelain kitchen sink and giving my baby daughter baths. 

Is there anything better than splashing?

And, a couple Christmases ago, the two of us went swimming. In the rain.

We were at a beach house in Del Mar. Fool father that I was, I had promised we’d swim every day.

No matter what.

Two days before St. Nick arrived, it was raining cats, dogs, buckets and Turkish saints. Catalina Island got blown off course. It was coming down so hard there weren’t even fish. But, we sprinted screaming from the car and were drenched before we hit the first wave. It was stupid cold. And, us being in the water, we were wet. And so profoundly, so perfectly happy.

There’s the little things with water, like 4 a.m. treks to the kitchen to answer the call of hydration. Or being stranded in the middle of nowhere, cursing when your truck overheats. I remember Hawaii, getting caught in a riptide and being washed out sea. You can’t fight water. I swam for an hour, parallel to the shore, until I found more calming currents.

Lived to write about it.

I remember the sound of heavy rain or that satisfying gulping noise horses make at a trough. My dopey sister-like substance Leslie Ann and I both make the same spit sound to show displeasure:

“Hock — — — ptooey!!

There is no more pleasing sound than of steam escaping from a tea kettle, or an overfilled water balloon hitting a younger sibling. It is the stuff of mud pies and, every day, somewhere, the sun disappears beyond its furthest reaches.

I love this stuff, water. While it makes up most of who I am, it may or may not be my best feature.

John Boston is a local writer, 60% water and some say the rest, beans…

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