Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church

Gusher Gift – Well Blog Post #4/4

March 11th, 2013 by Pastor David Echelbarger

Gusher Gift is the conclusion of this four part blog.  Notice how a lack of cell phones in those days contributes to the drama of life.  You sometimes have to wait eagerly for news of something that happened hours before.  Gusher Gift was published September 11, 1992.


Gusher Gift


This column is continued from last week, so first a quick update.  A week ago Saturday we had a well drilled.  Nothing has caused me similar anxiety.  When the well driller had no idea where water might be lurking beneath our feet, I pointed him to the spot where two water dowsers had their brass rods spread.

In the past I had taken water for granted and let it swirl down the drain.  Now I was beginning to have a growing insight: water is a gift, and like so many others we don’t appreciate it until it is either gone, scarce, or expensive.  As luck would have it I had forgotten my water jug that morning.  I was hot and dry when the machine started and the bit drilled into the earth.

I was remembering the stories I had been told when my parents had drilled their well in Iowa.  My folks are proud of it, and justifiably so — it is so good that when Mom and Dad visit me they bring their own water.  I was two years old when they found water 136 feet beneath our hill and it has faithfully produced for 37 years.  I’ve seen the old black and white (actually black and auburn) photographs of my extremely young looking parents standing near the equipment.  I remember the stories.  My mother stopped the well driller ever thirty minutes or so and asked him anxiously:  “What if we don’t find water?” Finally, frustrated to the max, he said:  “Lady if we don’t find water, you don’t have to pay!”  That’s the kind of reply my mother has always appreciated and it calmed her enough until water finally came shooting out of the pipe.  Eureka!  They had struck an underground spring.  When they put their ears to the pipe they could hear it rushing cold and deep.

How I longed to tell a similar story now that years later it fell to me to probe the earth at eleven dollars a foot, plus casing, to see if sweet liquid was beneath my feet.  Actually it was more than just finding good water, but if I was unfortunate enough to drill a well three hundred feet or more, the entire house project would have to be reduced (because of the expense) and I’d have to sell pencils for extra income.  Much was riding on the next eight hours.

Thinking historically as I was, I insisted that Christine bring the children out to witness what it would take to fill their glasses someday.  She forgot to bring water too.  I was parched physically and psychologically.  I was in a desert, they had to find water to fill the empty glass my wife brought filled only with expectation.  Christine arrived only with son David.  Our daughter Anna had stayed overnight at a friend’s and was still sleeping.  Davy wasn’t impressed with the historical significance of the moment.  After sizing up the machines the first hour he proclaimed entire process boring and “how come Anna doesn’t have to be here?  Is she lucky or what?  No fair!”

I explained to Davy the importance of what he was observing, he’d get to see something that kids rarely did, and he should appreciate the fact that I was intent on showing him this.  I’m sure David saw something else, a tense father worried sick and dying for a glass of H2O.  Eventually when I caved into his moaning and offered to drive him home, he refused.  He didn’t want to stay but he didn’t want to miss anything either.  He sat on a stone in cold misery.

Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore and so I stopped their work:  “How is it going?”

“We’re down twenty feet, all sand, so far, so good.”  This was to be no instant lottery, but rather an afternoon baseball game, a slow nine innings that would last into the evening. Nothing to do but watch.

They called it a day at 5:15.  They had gone 60 feet: “we’re okay if we don’t hit rock.  Sometimes boulders sit on top of the bedrock, that would be a problem, we don’t want to hit clay either; but it shouldn’t be much farther until we find the water table, it’s down about a hundred feet.  If we’re lucky we’ll hit a sand seam, like the guy a quarter of the mile up the road.  It is the best water.  We’ll see.”

In the morning I was out there bright and early.  The empty glass Christine had brought the night before was still waiting to be filled.  By about noon they were at 90 feet, no water yet, but no rock, or clay either.  Things were looking good.  I had committed myself to drive a portable organ in my truck to Ironwood.  This left Christine in charge of the project and me out of touch. When I returned home I’d have the news.

A friend and I stopped along the way to Ironwood at a beautiful waterfall.  A trout fisherman was casting his line at the base of the white foam, and soon a small brook trout came to the creel.  Water everywhere, mist hung in the air, swirlingeddies, dancing drops, an abundance of rushing freshness.  At that moment I knew we either had water back home, or I was broke.  In four more hours when I returned home, I’d know.

We stopped at my friend’s house where Christine and the children were `going sauna,’ as they say.  Shortly before we turned into the driveway, I was struck with anxiety.  When I walked through the door I’d know.  All of the fears, the worries, the brass rods, hopes, dreams and the future, would be known when I walked through that door.  I swallowed hard and walked in.

Christine sat in her post-sauna garb, a hospital surgical scrub outfit.  Faced flushed, and relaxed, I couldn’t read her mood, I had to ask.

“Well?”  I questioned.

“Honey,” she replied slowly and deliberately, her voice rising at the end like a boat lifted by a wave, “we got a gusher!”  Next she ticked off the statistics like a proud new mother:  “114 feet down, 20 gallons a minute recovery (tremendous number).  “They hit a sand seam,” she continued, “like they hoped.  The water tastes great.”

Fortunately she saved some for me.  I took it out of the refrigerator and held it up to the light, at the bottom were a few fine grains of sand.  I sipped this cool delight and when I did a thirst was satisfied, a deep thirst quenched by a profound gift.

Now I wonder, will I ever drink from my faucet without thinking of that moment?  Will I ever let water swirl needlessly down the drain when I brush my teeth?  I sincerely doubt it.  Oh, I have enough water to waste, I have been given a gusher gift, but I have learned, gifts are to be cherished and lifted up with Thanksgiving every day.  For this gift of the deep earth, I thank you, O Lord.


David Echelbarger



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