I never thought of water much as a kid. It filled bathtubs and cups and came out of the garden hose. Running water was always a thing, so whenever I needed a drink, it was easily obtained. People only spoke of it to complain: either there wasn’t enough, or what we had tasted awful.

I didn’t know that the water tasted awful. It was all I ever knew. I drank it from canteens and garden hoses and the first time I had bottled water, I thought it was weird because there wasn’t a flavor.

When time came for college, I moved south from Amarillo to Austin and discovered something wonderful — the water! It tasted clean and green and I loved it. I found myself greedily drinking it from the tap. It smelled so good and I just loved it. I took to keeping tall tumblers full of water around because I liked having it at hand all the time.

After several years, I returned to Amarillo with my girlfriend and was shocked at just how nasty the water there was. I smelled and tasted just as I remembered — but I was still floored by just how awful the water there is. I took her to the drive-up burger place I worked at as a teen to show off their specialty root beers. I learned that they used the local water to make their beverages, rendering them like sewage. I was horrified.

During long droughts when the water levels of nearby Lake Travis began to flag, the water in town would gain a flavor of algae and silt. In the Winter, the cold water came chilly from the tap, but the Summer water was bathwater warm.

And just to emphasize this point: I’ve never done anything to get my water more strenuous than twisting a knob. Even camping, we’d arrive with gallons of clean water in jugs that I had filled in the bathtub. I’ve only ever just paid money to the people that keep the taps flowing, and that level of convenience and expectation has stayed with me. I’m a huge fan of indoor plumbing.

Last year, we moved to the Pacific Northwest. The first thing I noticed was that first glass of water from the tap was so cold and so clean and satisfying. I suddenly realized in that moment why the milk and fruit here is so amazingly sweet and delightful — the water is so clean it tastes sweet! After a year, I still surprise myself with a gulp of water straight from the tap and realize I’m not in Texas anymore.

Over the whole year, even in the Summer, the water stayed cold and sweet. It’s been my constant reminder of why I moved here. This is such a beautiful place that the beauty is in the food, and it’s in the water. My only regret is not having moved here much sooner that I could have enjoyed it more.


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