After I posted yesterday about being thankful for hot showers, I got to thinking about all of the times I didn't have hot showers. As a youngster, I spent weeks at a time camping where, sometimes, we had bathing facilities, but most of the time, it was only cold water. During the Georgia summers at the camp, taking a cold shower was actually kind of nice, but on those times when we were at the campground and it was cooler - like during fall camping trips - it wasn't so great.
Then, there was being in the field when I was in the military, and we didn't have access to showering facilities (and, in fact, didn't have any sort of plumbing at all - toilets were port-o-potties and our water was from one of these - called a water buffalo).
Water was for drinking, and we didn't waste it trying to stay clean. It wasn't much fun in the Texas heat without showers, or even a simple sponge bath. Of course everyone was dirty and we all smelled bad and so no one did.
It was different for me the time I didn't have hot water for showers, but I really needed to be able to shower. The scenario was that I was a young, first-year teacher, and I had moved from college to this community, but when I moved, I had just enough cash to pay first month's rent on a house, but not enough to pay for the utilities deposits.
I had the electricity turned on first (which, in retrospect, was probably not the best idea), and so for the first week in my new home, I had electrricity, but no water, and I don't know which was worse, not having water, or having to knock on the neighbor's door to borrow a bucket of water so that I could flush the toilet.
Then, I had the water turned on, but I couldn't afford to have the gas turned on, because the deposit was determined by the previous tenant's usage - over $100. It might as well have been a million, because I didn't have a dime to my name until I got my first teacher pay check - at the end of the first month of school.
The house had a gas stove for cooking and a gas water heater. So, for a month, I had no hot water and no gas for cooking. The only cooking appliance I had was a crockpot, and don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't cook spaghetti in a crock pot.
Can't would be incorrect. Shouldn't is actually the better word to use.
It was during that time that I really learned to cook over an open fire - everything from the standard hot dogs and hamburgers, to heating things from cans, to baking cornbread in a cardboard box (not sure why I didn't try cooking the spaghetti on the fire outside ... except, maybe, the idea to build the fire and cook out there came after the day I decided we were having spaghetti for dinner). I was nothing, if not creative.
Even without hot water, I showered every morning. There's nothing quite like taking a cold shower on a cool fall morning to really wake one up, but it's not an experience that I particularly enjoyed. I was (and am) thankful that I had indoor plumbing, and I was thankful for the ability to shower, but whooboy, just let me say that I was pretty happy to finally get the gas turned on.
Since then, I've always been thankful for hot showers.
And, today, I'd like to express my equal thanks for fuel for heating water and cooking. Back then, it was gas. Today, I have an electric stove, a propane water heater, a woodstove, a gas grill, and a fire pit outside. I am thankful that I have so many options available to me for heating water for bathing and so many ways to cook food for my family ... and one more thing, while I'm happy to have my crockpot, I'll be forever grateful that I've never, again, had to try to make spaghetti in a slow cooker. Some things that can be done, often just shouldn't be.