Today’s been one of those days where I ask myself how people do what they do, get up, drink their coffee, ride the subway or drive 35 miles, only to see a dog lose an eye – a veterinarian’s sad day, or maybe just the usual indifference from an arrogant boss. When I started chopping cilantro leaves for dinner tonight, seeing the annoying seepage of water, signaling the need to dry the leaves once again in a paper towel, my mind traveled back to another day, the day I spied a mother duck and her progeny swimming in a local pond – contentedly it seemed to me – thriving in the water, dark with tannins, diving for whatever ducks prefer – maybe on the same gastronomic level as foie gras or cassoulet can be for us humans.
The common denominator in these meditations came up “water.” And water is not just a beautiful scene at the ocean or the lake or the river – water underlies the battle for survival, for the continuance of agriculture, for the freshness we demand in food every day – unrealistically, but that’s a story for another time. Water is becoming a scarce resource. We in developed countries don’t give safe drinking water a second thought. We wash our vegetables under the tap and we eat those vegetables raw. Yet in so many parts of the world, eating raw vegetables means full-blown gastrointestinal distress, alleviated only by boiling the water that women walk miles to lug back to the house or soaking the rawness in a bleach solution, if bleach is on the shelf at all.
So I berated myself for forgetting something vital. Fresh, clean water is a luxury. A veritable staff of life, no?