The weather last month was no less than tropical over here: hot and humid. And we loved it! In the morning we would fill a metal basin with well water and let it soak in the sun rays for a few hours. Sometime before or after lunch, the tepid water from the basin was poured all over our bodies to cool and clean us. This simple ritual makes for a quick, refreshing break, much needed in hot weather.
Washing outside, or rather in an outside shower cabin, has become our permanent place and way of washing here. Most people, when introduced to the idea of washing outside without any running water, find it bewildering. But how do you do it? Aren't you cold? You must not use soap and do it very quickly. These are some of the questions we are frequently asked. We also didn't think it was possible to wash outside year-round. Keep in mind, western Ukraine is no land of a wild parakeet. Here in the Lviv area during the winter time, although rare, the temperatures can drop as low as -20 C (- 4 F).
Last winter, during the Ukrainian Christmas we had the coldest night of the year -- it went as low as -22 C (- 7 F). By the time we came back from my grandparents' house, who we spent the holidays with, it was 10 o'clock at night. Our house greeted us with its cold stupor. We were exhausted (it takes about an hour to get to our house from the grandparents') and still needed to light the wood burning pichka, our only source of heat. By the time we had a chance to warm up the house and heat some water on the stove for washing, it was pushing 1 am. While waiting for my turn to go wash, I was dozing off on the coach. Making my way to the shower cabin outside I was half-asleep, already. The air was still and fresh, but I can't say that I was freezing or even cold. I washed quickly, since I was tiered and wanted to go to bed as quickly as possible. On the way back to the house, I glanced at the thermometer we have hanging on the patio. It read 22 below 0, Celsius that is. Wow...really? Yes, I expected it to be cold, but I have never expected to be outside washing in those freezing temps. This was the coldest temperature I've ever washed in under an open sky. During our first winter here, last year, there were a few occasions, when I said -- forget about it, I'm not washing outside. Although, Michael still did. This winter was different, I washed exclusively outside.
Actually, the main element that makes it too chilly to wash out is the wind. At times, the winds here can be quiet ferocious and make washing in the shower cabin less than an enjoyable experience. But, definitely, not impossible. A few times during the winter I even got the urge to rub snow on myself after washing. I know, to most people it sounds insane. But I simply felt like doing it and not only was it refreshing, but it was super energizing, as well. Michael and I have realized (this time, in practice) that we are capable of so much more than we're used to doing. And most of us may never even find out what our true potential as humans is, unless we let go of our dogmas.
Even though our well water is clean and safe enough to drink or cook with (at least, we're still alive with no visible side effects), we opt for spring water as our everyday staple. We've mentioned our local spring on this blog more than a few times already, but it really deserves all this attention and more. We're extremely grateful to have this clean source of wild water so near home. It takes less than five minutes to get to our spring. And once we're there, this tiny sanctuary of nature amidst the village, feels truly serene. The majestic evergreens encircle the spring area with a green wall, summer and winter time alike. The air there always feels fresher and cooler; a perfect spot to sit down and relax.
The spring in our village. I'm not sure if we have ever mentioned this, but our dog Toma is very much afraid of water and will not get inside the spring water pool or even drink from it.
We visited it on an especially hot day to take a dip. The water that comes out is chilly.
Very refreshing, indeed. On hot days, the spring is filled with kids coming to soak their feet. It's not apparent on this picture, but to the right there are two draining pipes, which bring the water to the stream below.
If you look at this picture, you may notice a whole lot of decor. This photo was taken during Christmas. The community even set up a Xmas tree inside and added more flashing lights around the area. Of course the tree and all of the lights are not there year round, but everything else does stay: the plastic flowers, a single strain of lights and the neon pink concrete fence. Even when we don't stop at the spring to get water, we can clearly see it flashing on the side of the highway while driving. And, yes, the Virgin Mary. She is hiding in that white brick chapel. Either way, we're grateful to the local community for setting up and adorning this spring.
The picture below depicts the spring in Bayview, Milwaukee (Wisconsin, USA) where we would go to get our water when we lived in the area. It is called the Iron Well, for it has a high iron content.
This covert spring was shown to us by Chris, the local farmer in South Carolina, when we volunteered at his organic farm.
This is at Mount Shasta, another spot we visited while traveling along the west coast of the U.S. I believe we were traveling north from California to our next farm in Oregon. The spring is surrounded by picturesque views.
This little spring was found during our trip to central Ukraine a few years ago, in Cherkasy region, where my grandma is from. We think that it belongs to the monastery that we saw not too far away from the spring. Nevertheless, we were especially joyful to discover it on our long walk through the woods heading to a festival at a local eco village.