Not a Drop to Drink

Made the trip up to Addison last weekend to close up camp. Boarded up a few windows, secured the tarp that serves as a shed door, unplugged the well pump, drained the pipes and water heater, put antifreeze down the drains, and used a compressor to blow out any remaining water (let’s hope). Propped the fridge door open, pushed the front door shut from the inside (only way to get it securely closed), and made the usual ungraceful exit out the back window.

The annual rite of draining pipes and shutting off the water is for many camp owners fittingly symbolic of the end of summer, requiring resolve, decisiveness, and — often as not — more than a little remorse.

If beings from another planet were to do an anthropological study of New Englanders, they would likely be intrigued by our fixation with water. They would notice that in the summertime, we frequently make long pilgrimages to large bodies of water. Once there, we characteristically shed most of our clothes and recline beside it, swim in it, or go out boating on it. Particularly at dawn and sunset, they would notice groups of us staring out across it, as if in prayer. Near the end of the day great numbers of us gather in eating places that are — you guessed it — beside the water. And then, for good measure, we return to our homes or hotel rooms and douse off with a long shower.

In a land of such water abundance, it is no wonder we take much of our daily water use for granted. According to the per capita daily use of household water in the US is 69.3 gallons. The biggest chunks of that are for washing clothes and showers.

They say the next world war will be fought over water. That is hard to imagine, living here in the Northeast. It’s easier to imagine when you look at daily per capita water consumption in other countries. In Haiti,for example, that figure is 1.2 gallons.

Ironic water fact of the day: The manufacture of a one liter plastic bottle uses 7 litres of water.

The trip to close up camp wasn’t all penitential. It was also an excuse for a kayak trip around Head Harbor Island. Contrary to the forecasts, our day of paddling started with blue skies and bright sunshine. The weathered black cliffs along the shoreline of Head Harbor Island and the hundreds of seals in Head Harbor, the Cow’s Yard, and Eastern Bay were among the highlights.

Just because the camp is closed up doesn’t mean we won’t go back there again before spring, of course. The camp will be dry, but there’s plenty of water — for paddling at least — off Moosabec Reach.

Water Almanac for October: Through last week, despite the snowy winter and impossibly wet spring and early summer, precipitation for the year stands at 33.3 inches,just 3.6 inches above normal. Penobscot Bay water temperatures are down to 54 degrees after a high of about 67.4 degrees on August 18. Area streamflows are above average for this time of year, with the Ducktrap River running at 22 cubic feet per second.

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