My house has a cistern in the basement.
It is partially hidden behind a stone wall, however I am VERY aware it is there. It is
enormous – a cylinder 14’ long and 6’ diameter with a trap door ready to swallow children and pets!
A cistern is an artificial reservoir used for storing liquids, especially rainwater. In my case rain water from the gutters and downspouts somehow made its way into the belly of this beast.
I wonder what's in it now?
I've heard some cisterns called 'archaeological time capsules' because of the treasures they have revealed. I guess it is the size of the thing that intimidates me the most - keeps me from looking inside. Maybe I'm afraid I will fall in.
My husband scoffs and tells me he's certain it's empty. Is he just saying that because he doesn't want me to make him look?
Sometimes I go into the basement and stand on my tippy toes to look over the stone wall at the top of it. I see images in my mind of women climbing a wooden ladder, leaning over the monster and scooping out buckets of water. Carrying the buckets over to the wash tub preparing to do laundry. I can feel their presence and their assurance that the cistern was their friend and is now my friend.
I ponder how easy my life is. I turn a knob and have water - any temperature I want - just dial it in. The waste water disappears - I don't even know where it goes! I do know if something is draining slowly I get annoyed - how would the women scooping water from the cistern feel about that?
As I feel myself become impatient with low water pressure, slow draining sinks, water that takes half a minute to warm up, I will think of - and honor - all the precious souls that lived before indoor plumbing and called the cistern their friend.
Enjoy your conveniences my friends!