March 29, 2022
When James and Katrin bought the land next to our cottage in Ireland, they arrived with goats and chickens and a resonant philosophy of living lightly on the land. They built their small house with a composting toilet, rain water collection system, and solar panels. We were thrilled to welcome them. However, to now supply their massive vegetable gardens and hazel trees with adequate water, they recently wanted to suss out a place for a well and contacted a dowser. She found a strong source of water and said it was connected to another source, pointing in the direction of the cottage. She was very likely pointing to our well. There was immediate concern that this new well would draw off of ours but the dowser knew the man who drilled the cottage well and his opinion was there would be no issue as our well is very deep. However there seems to be no small amount of skepticism about this man’s memory or veracity.
This also raised the question of exactly where the cottage well is located. I know, you would think we would know. But a well is not indicated on any of the official land registry document maps, nor is it indicated in the title search and survey documents we received when we bought the cottage that simply stated there was no idea where our water came from. Perhaps off the roof, the inspection concluded. Which is beyond ridiculous. However the prior owner had said the well was in the parking strip across the road and we took her at her word. And fortunately we’ve had no reason to look for the well until now.
As our dear neighbor Mick said, “Welcome to rural Ireland.” And he laughed at the idea that we would find anything on any map or report. But having lived in the neighborhood for decades, he knows exactly where the well is. And he knows it’s been paved over when upgrades were done to the road. Lovely. At least we know where our well of water is from Mick’s well of wisdom.
There was a moment in all this when I thought we might have to seek divine intervention. But we have Mick and there is something divine in that. Some might refer to Mick and Mary as the pillars of this rural community, but I would offer they are much more the deep roots. Mary remembers being present for births that happened in the stone cottage that was, decades ago, replaced with the current cottage. She has wonderful stories of her visits to the old and new cottages, including knowing who slept in each room and how the furniture was arranged. She and Mick have watched life unfold in this community their whole lives. They are both deep wells of history and wisdom.
This is the wisdom of people in community who grow up and grow old together. This is the wisdom of compassion and caring that flows through generations. And this is a deep well of wisdom I drink from when I am in Ireland.