On Dry Wells, Filthy Dogs and Old Gents
We've had, until now, two water wells in the garden of our country house some 25 kilometres west of Prague. Now we are in the process of drilling a third one. I say drilling, not digging, because below a thin layer of subsoil there is a solid bed of basalt, one of the most stubborn rocks that exist.
And one of the messiest, to boot. The stuff crushed by powerful drilling bits, is a fine, greyish-black powder which will hover in the air forever. I suspect that ultimately, most of the gunk will wind up in outer space, forming an impenetrable envelope around this planet, which is probably why extraterrestrial intelligence has been unable to make meaningful contact with us earthlings. Why flying saucers have lately been avoiding the Milky Way. And why we earthlings haven't conquered the stars to date. I'm thinking of writing a long letter to NASA.
The tiny residue of the basalt dust fallout is eminently demonstrable on my dog Rikki, a pitch-black spaniel. Black to black, you'd say, but no, this is absolute blackness that spreads itself evenly around the house, for Rikki routinely makes my bed upstairs his resting place. When it rains, the fine basalt powder interacts with moisture to form a kind of batter in which spaniels love to wallow and be caked in. At night, Rikki and I are bedfellows under the ancient pact between man and his dog, and my wife yells about it. Wash him, says I. With what, she retorts. There's no water in this house!
We're drilling a third well, because the previous two have proved something of a disappointment. The one with the hand pump over it is very ancient, yielding only a few buckets of muddy water a day. The main one, with a power pump sunk at the depth of almost 50 metres, supplies the household with tap water, of which there has been severe shortage over the past 20 years. It appears that it was created a few centimetres off the actual spring and what we've been getting from it is just a leak from an adjacent spring. It's a showcase example of sloppy water prospecting. Our neighbours have wells which literally brim over with good fresh drinking water.
Of course we are not drilling this artesian well on our own. My wife hired a drilling squad from Prague. They arrived equipped with something that strongly resembles the drilling sets I have seen at work in the Sahara Desert. Lengths and lengths of pipe, an assortment of drilling bits, a smattering of cables, and a mighty compressor, which, to my chagrin, today occupies one third of our ruined garden. It's ruined because the many attempts to manoeuvre this monster into position have changed the lovely garden beyond recognition.
To find water, one generally needs the help of a dowser. One of them is Mr Josef Polacek, from the small town of Liten just a stone throw's away from the ancient Karlstejn Castle, the fairytale castle founded by Charles IV. He is 87 and has prospected water over a long distance in the Alps. He is also a healer and psychic, and police often ask him to help them track down missing persons. Invariably, he succeeds. In addition, he repairs ancient grandfather clocks. He is a remarkably alert old man. All the people in the well-drilling business recommend Mr Polacek.
We brought him in from Liten, some 50 kilometres from our country house. He stopped us some 30 kilometres from our destination. He said let's not waste time, you just give me a rough sketch of your property--the house, the wells, the electric cables, and please indicate which direction is north. My wife sketched the situation on a sheet of paper on the bonnet of our car. Mr Polacek produced his twigs which had a stub of lead pencil attached to them. Instantly, his contraption began to work. These water diviners are truly amazing people. The pencil drew two distinct curved lines on the sketch. There, there it is. It's 12 metres below the ground and we'll corroborate that when we're there.
There, on our property, these twigs nearly broke the old man's wrists when positioned just over the place he had indicated. I'm a born sceptic and no supernatural things work with me. He put his hand on my arm and said let's work together. The twigs in my hands went rampant, twisting my wrists and making me feel strangely dizzy. The twigs pointed precisely to where he had said the well should be. Mr Polacek had imparted some of his awesome energy to me!
We retired to the dinner table. Mr Polacek has been a water diviner for as long as he can remember. He'd been badly treated in the past. He's a retired man but he's still the mayor of Liten, where he has lived since his birth.
How strange: I nearly broke my wrists holding those twigs and with his warm, heavy hand giving me an energy that I had never felt before.
As it turned out later, Mr Polacek had discovered an underground electric cable. But underneath it is a very strong spring of good drinking water. The well-sinking firm from Prague said it would be risky to dig there, as vital electric supplies could be disrupted and we would have to pay out a fortune to the utilities company. They suggested another location, just centimetres away from the former main well. Our water-rich neighbours have been watching the activities in our garden with mixed feelings. At the time of writing my letter, the diggers got 20 metres below surface. And so far there's no water to be found and wash my dog Rikki with.
P.S. We struck water!! It happened on Monday. We're all caked in mud, but we are so happy!!!!