Fresh water spring near Freeman

I lined up a stack of jugs and jars on the counter to fill with filtered water. Holding the first jug below the spigot, I passed the time reviewing images of my mother doing the same thing many years ago. At the time the log cabin Dad had built with chainsaw and hammer had everything, including the kitchen sink found in a modern home: electricity, heating units and hot water tank. But, it did not have a well. Before the well was dug, every trip Mom took to town or to work included a stop to fill water bottles – but not at a grocery store water dispenser.
Mom knew she did not have to shop for spring water shipped in from the mountains of Kentucky – not when she had her own personal spring. She pulled her car off into a small alcove just west of Addison, N.Y. on Highway 17 beside a moss covered wall of rock overhung with lush green trees. A pipe threaded between the rocks directed the fresh water spring to flow out and away from the rocks. The water flows all year long: providing cold drinks in the late summer – creating icicles in the dead of winter. It is accessible to anyone with a thirst to quench or a water container to fill and time to stop.
We drank the water with confidence. From childhood I have seen fathers, mothers and their families of kids splashing in the cool water, filling water jugs, reveling in the constant flow of refreshing water on a hot day. A bit of cool water at the spring and stretching of the legs has calmed more than one car load of hot children on a hot summer day.
When I lived there as a child, the stream acted as a faucet of cold water to clean off the stickiness of ice cream – it was not, after all, a time when every gas station and department store carried individual and gallon jugs of bottled water and plastic tubs of handy wipes. In that era, washed out, empty mayonnaise jars, old ketchup bottles and soda bottles reappeared as water bottles. When my mother packed up a picnic for her five children she not only filled a jug with ice water or punch, she also took a couple minutes to pull out a two-quart Tupperware bowl and filled it with water and a washcloth before snapping on the lid.
Ironically, it is not the prepared picnics with the tubs filled with water that I remember so much as it is the occasional shopping trips with my mother to the village of Addison. In the time before fast food restaurants and dollar menus, in a time when her family needs stretched the family budget, Mom did not even consider taking us, her five children, into the restaurant to order lunch. Instead she went into the grocery store, bought a loaf of bread and a package of baloney and made sandwiches.
I reminisced about them to my husband recently. He looked at me in disbelief, “with ketchup, salad dressing or mustard, right?”
“No, just white bread and baloney.” He was incredulous that those simple sandwiches, followed by a stop at the mountain stream, satisfied until we reached home. Odd, how we think we have to have to have so much now.
Water gushing out the end of the plastic jug, woke me from my reverie with an emphatic reminder to start filling another jug.