Springwater-God’s Sweet Mercy

Springwater-God’s Sweet Mercy

I grew up in a small town in South Western Minnesota. I knew the out-of-doors, I knew the bounty of crops, birds, rivers, streams, beaver, muskrat, snapping turtles, river bottoms and sand pits.

Throughout those years I utilized the spring water that flowed out of the earth like a gift from God. It was from God or direct from nature.

My first spring water was from a small state park called the Blue Mounds. A pipe came out of the side of a hill and a miracle occurred as we drank fresh cool water from a hillside. Glass gallon jars were filled and brought home. It never ceased, it ran continuously.

My next experience was the small town of Adrian, Mn. Along the Kanaranzi River (a Native American word meaning “place where the Kansa were killed” , it was the farthest north reference to the Kansa Indians in the MidWest).

The Kanaranzi River provided a resource of fresh spring water long before Karl Rolvaag wrote “Giants of the Earth”. It was located along a highway that ran East and West nearly half the length of the continent. People would plan their trips to stop and fill canteens, crockery and in later times fill glass jugs with ice cold , cool, clear water.

It flowed directly out of the hillside along “old” highway 16. It was such an appreciated resource that in the mid 1970’s people of the area commissioned a regional artist (Bob Artley) to sculpt stone edifices to ornament and too visibly depict their appreciation for this natural resource.

Our society became agrarian about six to eight thousand years ago. We are no longer hunters and gatherers.

When we made this transition it occurred quickly, within just a thousand years or so.

This transition meant that we no longer had a varied diet. We lost our height, we lost nutrition, we became dependent on limited grains. In our old age our teeth were destroyed by stone ground wheat, barley and other shatter grains that in some ways made our life easier. It also made our life less healthy.

However, we were dependent on a new way of life, a life of agrarian toil. We now spent precious calories on planting, weeding, tending crops, harvesting. We spent nearly twice the calories than when we hunted and gathered. Our life expectancy dropped, we were now agrarians/farmers.

The first thing that happened six or eight thousand years ago once we became farmers?

We pooped in our bath water, that is to say we domesticated a half dozen animals. They now are upstream of our communities.
We have come to realize that this new agraian society has a new problem……water pollution. It occurred immediately once we became farmers.

As long as you lived upstream and had no neighbors higher on the watershed you led a healthy life.
However, you and your livestock spread disease and pestilence to all those down stream.

We had become critical thinkers and realized that grain, like wheat or barley, when it was placed in water started to ferment. After a few days this process killed bacteria and it was critical to humanity continuing to flourish. Raising grain was critically important for clean water and we also made bread like products as another byproduct.
Our hunter and gatherer friends slowly died off because they could not produce offspring as fast as our sedentary agrarian friends. (simply put, the hunter gather ovulation cycles would cease while carrying a one or two year old….on the move)

As long as densities of human populations were thin and limited, the springs and artesian wells were still functional and a source of clear clean water.

I am fortunate to have grown up in a time when you could still appreciate water flowing from a hillside. It was cold, clear and everyone from miles around would gather in a communal setting to appreciate the wonders of nature.

In the blink of an eye, My children know nothing of this phenomenon.

The density of our population has grown and the nitrates from feeder lots despoil our water.  There are no longer open springs available to the public.

It was once simply water that was “upstream” flowing through the water tables.

Profits to maintain human culinary satisfaction means more feeder lots.

Our water has become tainted by demand, demand for corn, soybeans, cattle, hogs and chickens.

Our population has flourished as we all have become successful.

We must realize that we are part of the agrarian experience. We can add some barley to some water and let it ferment for a few days.

We will survive because of this and we can even make bread from the selected shatter grains.

Our children and grandchildren are well fed and nourished. They will maintain their health by modern medicines.

Alas, they know nothing of the spring water flowing from the hillside.


5 Replies to “Springwater-God’s Sweet Mercy”

  1. Bill,
    A great article! We always enjoyed the trips to Lavern and stopping for water at the spring before we got there.

  2. Well said, Bill. I remember making trips to Adrian to get water. Brewed the best tasting coffee using that water.

  3. I find myself very saddened by the many changes in farming. I waited all these years to retire to my lovely country home but now for the last many years have a confinement barn right across the road. I no longer can open my windows and enjoy the gentle breezes of the prairie. If the wind is in the north which it nearly always is out here, I can never open my windows. We had livestock but it never prevented our neighbors from sitting in their yard. I was going to put a deck on the north side of my home but that can never be, if you start sitting outside as soon as the big fans come on you must go in the house. One of our county commissioners commented in the paper that “if we did not like the smell move to town”. My husband and I worked many years to own this farm and we are the third generation century farm family to live here. My husband passed 10 years ago so I suppose I will leave the place I love in a few years when my horses are gone. I am a huge supporter of Ag but our county needs to use better judgement on how many they allow to be built in our county and where they are located. We need to support each other and preserve our freedoms but not at the cost of how I have to live mine.

  4. When our first child was born my dad drove from Wothington to Adrian to bring spring water to Walnut Grove so she would have safe water to use in her formula. He did this every week.

  5. Adrian spring was a family affair when I was little.
    Grandpa and Grandma would mount the camper on the back of the pickup and tie seems like hundreds of milk jugs in strings to the side and drive us kids from Worthington to Adrain so we could fill jugs for them.
    It was a sad day when I drove past in my adulthood to see the springs demolished.
    Seems the farther we advance as humans the farther we step away from life!

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