Every living being is a container of water. Earth is 70% water and so are we. I genuinely believe there is so much more we could all learn about the water that surrounds us and the water within us. I like to say, our health is only as good as the health of the watersheds we live in. This is what motivates me to research all things water and people’s relationships with it. And water is not only a resource, it is a source of inspiration. Genuine appreciation of water is what I aspire to share.
It is November 1st, and I sit here in an unending darkness before the clock strikes 5pm. I recall this year’s summer days, swimming in alpine lakes and discussing water with you. Your idea to do a water retreat roadtrip in August was one of the best things we did this summer. While it has been three months since we drove across Germany, Italy and Switzerland, our water conversations continue to be in my thoughts. A never-ending stream of memories.
A Water Retreat
While everybody is retreating for Yoga, Meditation or Silence, we have been exploring what healthy water means to us. When I said that there are no offers available for water retreats on google, you enlightened me by saying, that every holiday spent by the sea or a lake or a water body is a water retreat. I do want to mention here though, that when I did google water retreat this Bungalow with a waterslide in the Maledives came up as my first result. I have added it to our maybe-in-the-future water retreat wish list. And now that I am no longer in Germany but in the UK, I repeated the search and the Cotswolds Water Park Retreats is the first result, caption “A range of Luxury Holiday Homes in the Cotswold”. Does Water Retreat mean luxury only? I guess wealth is granting access to healthy water. But that is a topic for another letter. Let me share this remark: As we have been posting on Instagram about our happy water retreat and nature experience, mainly with the aim to educate (or edutain as it is better described these days) and draw attention to the ambition of our Water Appreciation Society project, I did get a friend’s response commenting on us showing off being all fancy doing “a water retreat”. The connotation of water retreat seems to be exclusively stating luxury.
Luxury or not, people do choose to go on holidays by the sea or a lake. Any holiday seeking water is a water retreat. This is captured by the concept Blue Mind. Marine biologist Wallace J Nicols wrote about the surprising science behind why being in and around or just near water makes us feel better. Using brain scans he showed that being near water releases feel good hormones. The connection between people and water is supposed to be hardwired in our brain. You did raise some criticism on this though, mentioning that many island state citizens are afraid of water and have an ingrained fear of the impact of tsunamis. Wallace’s book doesn’t touch up on this topic. But I can see how not everybody is drawn to the ocean, however, I do believe that the health of our water matters to every human being.
Health of water bodies
While enjoying lake hopping through Europe, I learned is that it’s incredibly difficult to look up bathing water quality. Why is it so difficult to understand water quality? For every lake we visited, I tried to look up the bathing water quality. I could not make sense of the information, so I guess we trust that it is good enough and jump in. We do know that impeding health risks are communicated with a sign, but on our quest for water quality, it was hard to understand which lake had the healthier water. And rather than only being warned to not go swimming when it is dangerous, I would appreciate easily accessible information on which water body is the healthiest.
Water quality is easier to understand for the water we drink. We did sample the local tap waters, drank water from beautiful historic public drinking water fountains, running spring water on our hiking trails through the forest, and locally sourced bottled mineral water. A favourite moment of mine is when you described your favourite water as the one that was diffusing by osmosis in your mouth before you could swallow it.
Without doubt, spring water is the best water to drink, with its unique, refreshing taste. People distinguish water taste as lighter, heavier or sweeter. The beauty of drinking water in the Alpine region is that you can easily trace back where the water was sourced, and local bottling companies are proud to share information about the conditions and the history of the water source, a natural spring. Spring water is water that naturally bubbles up to the earth’s surface.
Often, bottled water is not natural spring water, it is public tap water that is enhanced by further treatment. The numbers commonly seen claim that about half of the bottled water sold is not spring water but treated tap water. Demystifying the bottled water market is a challenge though. I am writing about this in a weekly water newsletter aiming to bring some light into what we do know and don't know about water.
A thought I have since our trip is whether free from contamination is good enough. Water standards define clean water as free from potential health hazards, it is all about the chemical composition and contamination. But what if I do not want only “safe” water but “healthy” water? What is the definition for that? I am increasingly learning that it is not only about the chemical composition but the molecular structure of water that defines how healthy it is and how our cells are able to absorb it. But more on that in the next edition.
In the spirit of water poetry and the mission of our Water Appreciation Society, I am sharing one of my favourite quotes for this season. Rumi said, “what you seek is seeking you” and I cannot wait to continue my quest for healthy water with you.