One summer a few months after my first trip to Disney, my sister and I were playing in the house enjoying the freedoms of summer. My father was out mowing , my mother was gardening, it was a perfect day. Until disaster struck. As my sister and I giggled while playing dress up, the hum of my father’s mower suddenly stopped. The engine noise was replaced by a string of curses so varied that I didn’t learn their true meaning until I was well into college.
My sister and I ran outside, but my father was nowhere to be seen. My mother came running from the front of the house, but still the only sign of my father was the continuous stream of expletives. After a few panicked moments we found my father and the mower down a large hole by the carriage house. My father had brilliantly, if unintentionally, discovered an old cold spring. I distinctly remember looking down at my muddy, soggy, angry father as he stood in a six-foot-deep hole with his precious mower.
The former owners of the house had put boards over the spring, but through the years the boards had been covered with dirt and grass. So, when my father tried to mow over that patch, he, and the mower, had fallen into the spring. Surprisingly, my father and the mower were fine. My mother sent my sister and me back to the house while she and my father hauled the mower out of the hole. She probably thought that we had learned enough new words for the day.
Once the hole had been cleared of broken boards, my sister and I were dying to explore it. My mother obligingly held us by the hands and lowered us into the spring. There wasn’t much water, only a few inches that ran through the bottom, and it was probably about four feet around. But my sister and I thought it was the best thing ever. It was cool in the summer heat, and there was an infinite amount of mud to play with. We had found paradise!
My sister and I spent weeks being lowered into the hole everyday by our mother. She gave us a bell so when we wanted to get out she could hear it and come get us. She would toss down sandwiches at lunch time and we would drink the spring water if we got thirsty. And drinking the water gave us a brilliant idea.
On our trip to Disney world, my sister and I encountered bottled water for the very first time. People paid good money for plain old water in a plastic bottle. But we were literally sitting in natural spring water. We were rich! The old owner of our house, besides leaving a poorly covered spring, had left dozens of old mason jars in the basement. My sister and I set out to bottle and sell our spring water with the enthusiasm of pint size entrepreneurs. I don’t know if we actually ever sold any water, which may be a good thing since we were playing in that same water all day, but I have fond memories of sitting down in that mud pit, spending long summer days basking in the cool water before my mother hoisted me out, hosed me off, and sent me to bed.