It was gunna’ be a simple experiment. Ya’ know, no special equipment, no special safety gear, just grab some pond water, sterilize it and drink it. Well, Mrs. Gray didn’t say to drink it, but I was gunna’ be all pioneer and such. We were gunna’ show y’all that we city-slickers have survival skills, just like the Ingalls family.
I sent Beka to the crick (that’s Montanan for creek, in case ya’ didn’t know) next door with a canning jar and the obligatory warning about falling in, hitting her head and drowning. Ya’ know, those things a mother says to make herself feel better. I wonder if Ma said those same things to Laura and Mary when they were sent to fetch the water?
Beka knows the routine by now. Didn’t want anyone to drink our “fresh spring water” before it was properly sterilized.
We set it in a winder (Kansan for window) for a few days. We looked up a few things on water, so we could be all scientific and scholarly. One site said an average person uses ten gallons of water per day. Only ten gallons? Either that was a 75 year old statistic from the bathe in the gray washtub days, or our family isn’t average. Another site said that a shower uses 5-7 gallons per minute. That sounded more accurate. Do any of you have those kids that will soak in the shower until you bang on the door?
In the Olden Days, when I was a kid, we had well water. When our three minutes of shower time was up, someone (usually Dad) might turn on the hot water in another room to turn the shower to icy blasts, and the shower would be over. Of course, it wasn’t about the bill in those days, it was about running out of water. With eight people sharing one bathroom and one tank full of hot water on a school morning, Dad had to regulate. He was making sure everyone got a little hot water.
Beka and I discussed this and I tried to stress the importance of not wasting water, even if we had plenty. I thought the intent look on her face indicated compliance and agreement. Her addition to the conversation indicated otherwise.
“Mom, I think we should invent waterproof books so people can read in the shower when you want to relax in the shower and your mom is nagging you to do school.”
On Friday when we had time to finished up allotted projects, the procrastinated things Mrs. Gray knew we’d all have piled up,we poured it into a kettle
and began watching for those tiny bubbles that tells you bacteria, germs, and parasites are slowly dying.
I had Beka take all the pictures because I am teaching her how to upload and edit pictures. It also makes the assignments a little more exciting for her to be on the other end of the lens.
I assumed Beka knew what was going on without me actually telling her, so when I told her to boil it for 5 minutes, she poured the water in the kettle and set the timer for 5 minutes. Good girl, following directions. Bad mommy, giving poor directions. We discussed the stages water goes through before it is considered “boiling” and kept watching the kettle. Beka will never be one of those brides who can’t boil water. I think I could pat myself on the back right now.
Yes, a watched pot does boil faster with the lid on.
Now THAT’S boiling and THAT’S when you set the timer. We learned to sterilize water at sea level you boil five minutes, the higher the altitude the longer you need to boil the water because the water doesn’t get as hot as is does at sea level. Cooking at higher altitudes always takes longer. Hmm. Fargo, ND is only 274 feet above sea level, but I’m pretty sure that’s why I burn so much stuff, I never adjusted to the change in altitude when I moved to Seattle eight years ago. That has to be it.
Livestrong has a great article about purifying water for backpacking, discussing filters and water purification tablets. We were getting cold feet about drinking our sterilized water, and I tried to psyche us both up by talking about Hurricane Sandy and the people that needed to boil their water. I think Beka was secretly wishing she could send them our water, so I came up with a compromise. We would boil it for just a few more minutes to make it extra clean and refreshing. Remember my vintage yellow timer?
Well, we didn’t. We didn’t remember the water, either, and went off to sew. OK, so the lesson about sterilizing water didn’t work but the lesson about watching a pot did. The truth of that saying is a pot that isn’t watched will either boil over or boil dry. The School of Hard Knocks is sometimes more educational that Learning by the Books. I found myself thinking, “Phew, she probably won’t do that more than one or two more times in her life.”
Bet she’ll stock up on purification tablets, too, if she ever moves into hurricane country.