On the Statehouse lawn I was turned into a believer
May 28, 2007
"Water, water everywhere and, by golly I'm not even thirsty." I've modified that old adage to accommodate two truths that I'll start this story with. One, that I live on a farm filled with babbling brooks, bubbling springs and wet spots that swallow whole tractors; two, that I'm rarely thirsty, an enigma in this community where folks would sooner be without their arms and legs than their water bottles. By all accounts, in fact, I should be dead. The word is that we need to drink our weight in water every day, or some such thing, or face dire health consequences. My mother, who recently passed away at 90, hated water and never drank a drop. She believed that flowers, love, and Brownie Supremes are much more necessary to life than water.
Judging by what I've said so far, you might think that I, too, have no use for the stuff, but that is far from correct. I bathe every day in water, boil sap that's 98 percent water and most especially, have a spiritual link to water. I've been fascinated with "dowsing" ever since I was a toddler watching my father find long lost water pipes and underground streams with a forked apple stick. "Dowsers," aka, "water witches," in my book, are much closer to truth, God and the American way than just about anyone. Speaking of "truth," I must make a painful admission at this point: Dowsing never has worked for me.
A few days ago I was down popping maple kettle corn at the Vermont Water Week celebration on the Statehouse lawn. On break, I wandered over to the dowsers station, wistfully thinking of the times I'd held a forked stick in my hands to dismal avail. I approached a young man with "John" on his name tag and said that I was very interested in the art but had never been able to do it.
"He's the one you need to work with," John said with a tone of reverence, pointing to a large man with his back to us. The man wore a wide brimmed straw hat and around his waist hung a holster overflowing with dowsing tools. My mind went creative: Able to swim the English Channel with a single stroke … finds water where no one has found it before … look … down in the depths … it's a fish. It's a submarine. It's AQUAMAN!" John stepped over and tapped the big man on the shoulder and when he swiveled, my anticipation of a square-jawed hero deflated like a punctured rubber raft; AQUAMAN turned out to be my neighbor, Barry Langer!
Barry and I shook hands and I told him my story. He pulled two divining rods (wire rods bent at right angles) from his holster, handed them to me and told me to hold them pointing straight ahead and imitate a sleep walking trance. He said they would turn in my hands when I reached a vein of water. He pointed to a flagged line, where he had previously located a vein 160 feet down and I slowly headed toward it. I crossed the line and went slightly beyond. Nothing. I did it again. Nothing. Repeated trials and prompting by Barry brought nary a twitch from those rods, despite my positive answer to Barry's question, "Do you believe?" (and I do…I believe…I BELIEVE!). Barry had to interrupt our session for a group of school kids who wanted to try dowsing. He first gave them a cursory lesson and then sent them toward the line. Their rods, without exception, right and left-faced like dutiful little soldiers when they reached the vein of water! I left dejectedly and went back to making popcorn.
I returned later in the day for one final attempt. Barry was busy, but I helped myself to some rods on the table. I tried harder than ever to follow Barry's instructions and think of water flowing through the earth, 160 feet down, but the rods refused to budge. A woman named Lisa came up to me and said she had been watching and wanted to help. She refused to accept my inability, even after witnessing several more failed attempts. She led me to an isolated place on the Statehouse lawn — said she was going to "clear me of negative energy." It was a beautiful day and I was glad to follow her instructions to lie down and relax. She started at my feet and, although my eyes were closed, I sensed her hands hovering over me in a gentle "dough kneading" fashion, drawing out those little negative buggers like magnets draw iron filings. Somewhere in the fog of total relaxation, I heard a small voice intone, "Is that man dead?" I opened my eyes just enough to see a mother quickly leading the lad away. When Lisa finished, I got up, feeling very relaxed and, yes, void of negative energy.
My story ends much the way it began, with water — "water, water everywhere and, by golly I'm not even thirsty." You see, when Lisa handed me the rods again, I fully expected I'd find water quicker than a fisherman finds it on Saturday morning. A stroll to the flag line netted the "same old, same old" but it was five feet beyond the line when I felt, for the first time in my life, those wonderful appliances swiveling in my hands. Lisa said the delayed reaction was no problem because water is water and I had, indeed, found a vein — my water vein. I thought of the stars above and all the attention they get just because, I suppose, they twinkle. Earth's water somehow gets ignored and forgotten, but not always; I walked away that day elated with the age-old art of dowsing and that I had found my vein. Barry and Lisa told me about the American Society of Dowsers, which is headquartered in Danville. You know, by golly, I may join — yes I may, not because I'm a seasoned practitioner, but because I have the most important qualification — I BELIEVE.