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I remember how water tasted from a well

And how the tan oak leaves, slippery as pongee silk crackled when we played tag, how the crickets sounded crying from dry grass. No water for a lawn, nor water in the dried-up creek. Pretending, we sent leaf boats wind-tumbling over rocks. How like a mystery the house was, shutters drawn against the heavy Napa Valley heat. How we felt cool air moving after supper on the high front porch, while a sinking sun sent daggers through madrones. Listening to the clop-clop of horse's hooves along the Healdsburg road, Grandpa called every rig by name before he saw it. We stayed awake till stars came out, counting cars crawling down like yellow bugs the St. Helena grade. Some nights there might be twelve or so. And how the sun burned on old Nell's back when she walked us slowly to town in the carry-all, Grandma's linen duster brusque against our bare arms; how Grandma, careless as she always was with reins, let them drop while the aproned grocer ran to tie her buggy tightly to the hitching post, so Nell would stay. Gramp's well went dry that year, as it always did; On the way home we stopped at Sherwood's place to fetch a dripping pail of their well water to store in the coolest corner of the darkened dining room. Oh, I remember how water tasted from a well: faintly mouldy, mossy, redolent of fresh rain on Napa Valley earth, yet jangling metal on our teeth, when we sipped from the tin dipper kept there for everyone. -- and how the water came from our neighbor's well.

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