It was over forty years ago. I was in my fleeting youth, toe headed, barefoot, and growing like a weed. After I ran bonkers around Grandpa and Grandma’s house about 20 times in the summer sun, I was desperate for a drink. I always went to the kitchen. The refreshing water that I drew from the tap of the kitchen sink at Grandma Hill’s house, I simply called “Blanco Water.” And at that time, the Blanco Municipal Water Supply was processed and purified straight out of the Blanco River.
I can still remember drinking a mason jar full of Blanco Water, and I can recall the way I perceived the feel, taste, and smell of it. When I swallowed it, as it ran over my tongue and down my gullet, it quenched my thirst and invigorated my body. Blanco Water felt like it was alive, vitalizing, almost electric, and it tasted of the earthen clay in the river. As I drank, I could smell the essence of the water. It smelled like the wind right before a summer shower. It smelled like winter wind. It smelled like the earthen scent of the Blanco River. Its taste had the essence of chaste summer rainwater rushing down a rocky creek in the hills, headed back towards the womb of the Blanco River.
When the July sun rose to its highest point it just seemed to hang there, an angry ball of fire frowning down on the entire world. The Hill Country Sun had no pity for the farmers, the livestock, the Blanco River, or the townspeople. When Blanco Water ran through the water pipes, it carried life to its destinations. For summer drinking, hands-down, flat-out, Blanco, made the best glass of water that I ever grasped in my sweaty little hands. As a boy, in the summer, I preferred to drink the water right from the tap of my Grandma Vera’s kitchen.
I would turn on the cold-water and fill an old Mason jar all the way up to the grooves where the metal band screws onto the jar. Then I held the jar up to the kitchen window, and the fiery sun shone through and it flared golden inside the jar. I gulped down the Blanco Water tightfistedly; spilling some of the clear beverage around the sides of my open mouth, feeling the cool streams run pleasantly down my sweaty neck. I finished the rest, lapping it over and behind my tongue, and then slugging it down my gullet.
Blanco Water had a distinct smell. After spending time at my Grandpa’s farm in Kendalia, as a boy, I grasped what everyone knows. I realized that the heavy drops of a coming rain pelt the sod in the plowed fields and displace air. This pushes a breeze slightly ahead of the moving rain. This wind always arrives just before the rain falls on top of your head. It has the pleasant, earthy smell of iron and mineral deposits, and the organic matter of fertile turned over soil. Blanco Water rather smelled like that announcing rainstorm breeze to me.
I do not really know why Blanco Water smelled and tasted so good. Maybe it was the moss on the banks of the river, the earthen minerals in the clay, or the limestone bed rock bottom of the river. It might even have been the trace of that “5 pound bass that got away,” taking my favorite fishing lure with it, and just moseying along in the cool green shadows of the Blanco River.
That was half a century ago. Yet I can still smell and taste Blanco Water. It lives in the memories of my youth. It is one of the treasured memories of my lifetime.