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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Taking the Waters





Ahhh, the healing power of water. For me it’s watching the gentle movement of the broad lake beyond my door, or the relentless dance of crashing ocean waves. Rain seems to wash our tensions away and a cool drink of water offered is a universal sign of concern for others. Soaking in a bath tub is a treat we all seem to have little time for now.



Throughout history, water’s healing power  has always included that which comes from deep springs-- springs that often carry mineral rich water and have long been considered a health tonic.

Bath, England might be the most well known locations of "healing" spring water –in the form of both drinking and warm bathing waters.

I live near the town of Clifton Springs, a Victorian health resort that still celebrates its history and the odor of sulphur springs flowing through town. My doctor(s) offices are there! In the 1800s, fifty or so towns in NY State alone boasted of natural springs containing magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and sulfur. Surprised? me too. But the NY Times said so. Must be true.

historical post card of Clifton Springs NY  - from http://www.cliftonspringschamber.com/html/photos.html
Without any kind of evidence, people paid for the opportunity to bathe in or drink special spring waters expecting them to help or heal a medical condition, or promote health.
And what of taste?

I can tell you that sulphur water does not taste or smell good! But when I was growing up on well water, we chlorinated that water for multiple reasons. Not sure that was any healthier...  

the Roman Baths - at Bath, England
Bath, England’s waters are said to have the same taste of sulphur. But the draw was the warmth. Over 2000 years of history there and today you can visit the ancient Roman baths too look around.  After facilities have changed over the years, if you long to participate there is now one ‘new’ Spa in which to enjoy a soak. During the Regency era, Bath was one of England’s largest cities by population and boasted cultural distractions besides the ‘taking of the waters’.

The chalybeate (ka le be at) waters leaking out of many sites worldwide, including Schooley’s Mountain in Mistletoe Memories (visit during this week to find out more about this multi-inkwell author release!) are heavy with iron. I wish I could find a source who would explain the taste other than "like iron" or "unique". Does that mean 'old pipes flavor'?

Have you a local springfed source of water? Is it simply fresh and sweet or is it heavy with the taste of multiple minerals?  Have you visited any natural springs elsewhere in the world?
A continual source of warm water sounds like heaven to me, if it wasn’t for the odor!

18 comments:

  1. As much as I'd like to say I'm pampering myself with a trip to the spa today (and will be too relaxed to even type) I'm actually at work and will check in later. I sure hope to hear a nice 'warm springs' experience from someone!

    Those bubbling mud pots in Yellowstone had a strange draw for me. Luckily I did not indulge and therefore have survived being slow-cooked in hot clay.

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  2. Sulpher smelling springs are not my favorite and I'm not sure I'd want to soak in something that would make me smell like rotten eggs.
    In Colorado, I've been to a natural springs outside of Steamboat Springs after a day of skiing. That was neat. I think the most interesting mineral based body of water I've visited is the Dead Sea - now THAT was a cool experince, but a bit oily because of the extremely high mineral content of the water. A post dip shower is a must.

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  3. Ooh, the dead sea sounds amazing. I do this the fascination of the warm springs is interesting. I have only visited one in West Baden Springs, IN. The hotel there has been restored and is absolutely gorgeous.

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  4. I never thought of oiliness in the water, Deb. that's fascinating!

    when I was researching this, I found a newspaper article by a woman whose favorite vacation activity is visiting warm springs. She's been to some all around the world. Hiking into the wild and then relaxing in a warm spring--something I'd been unaware of.

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  5. I wouldn't mind my favorite vacation being to visit warm springs. Might give me incentive to go hiking.

    Oiliness in water? Hmm.... Icky, Deb, but also kinda fascinating. Good info to know, though.

    There's a town in Texas that grew out of having mineral springs nearby. In center of town is a majestic hotel that looks totally out of place with everything else, but it was built to accomodate all the visitors to the springs.

    I figure either mineral springs help people or they're a great placebo.

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  6. Just down the highway from where I live is the hamlet of Manitou Beach on the shores of Little Manitou Lake, Saskatchewan (Canada). The water in this lake is as salty or saltier than the Dead Sea. A spa/hotel has been built there and I've been in that pool many times. They say these waters are healing.

    The water is dark, the aroma is another story, and the stinging salt finds every tiny cut you didn't even know existed. However, it is fun to go into water in which it is impossible to sink. It is comical to look around the pool and see a bunch of bobbing heads. Just don't forget the careful shower afterwards or the white salt streaks will remain as a reminder of your visit.

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  7. Gina, I have to wonder if the waters seemed healing because they were less filled with bacteria, virus and creatures than the water coming out of the lakes and streams!

    I imagine that building was a Victorian or Edwardian era when 'taking the waters' was all the rage.

    Elaine - that is quite interesting. Saltier than the dead sea? I'm glad the post is making us aware of all these places I'd never heard of. Thanks! I might be able to swim in Little Manitou lake! (as opposed to struggling with my doggie paddle stroke)

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  8. Fun post. There are hot springs near my college town, and part of freshman orientation week always includes an evening in one of the "hot tubs" there. (It's a hotel/spa/etc and they pump the water into hot tubs.) The sulphur smell is astonishing, and it stays in your bathing suit.

    Iron-rich water? Sounds yucky-tasting, but very good for anemia!

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  9. Great post, Deb! I love hot springs and we used to hit every one we could find when we vacationed in the Rockies, drove to Vancouver, or headed up to the Yukon. You name it, and we've sat in it, from expensive hotel pools, to primitive ones on the side of the road near the BC/Yukon border.

    I've been to Watrous-Manitou Beach like Elaine - *waving to Elaine :) - and whoa! You don't shave your legs before going in that pool!

    Neither do you shave before going into the ultra classy Temple Gardens Mineral spa in Moose Jaw, Sask (2 hrs west of me) where the pool is on the 5th floor. You have to go under water a few feet - called the 'tunnel' to go under the wall to the outside. There's nothing like swimming outside in really warm water when it's -30 and a cloud of mist hangs over you. Everything is covered in frosty crystals, and the winter view from 5 floors up in those conditions is incredible.

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  10. Oh my. Hot springs are everywhere. How have I missed this experience?

    One note I saw was that the SPA in Bath actually adds a bit of chlorine to the water (to kill germs?) ... but that's a bummer. as if it doesn't smell bad enough?

    and not the 'natural' experience either.

    Anita - that place in MooseJaw sounds incredible. I've seen hotel pools like this in Canada. Half in/ half outside but that sort of gives me the creeps in a POSEIDON ADVENTURE Sort of way. I'd be a wimp. simple truth.

    but the view must be worth it!

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  11. It was Deb, it was. :)

    By the way, I recently posted about the historic Cave and Basin hot springs in Banff, Alberta under the Genealogy Notes of a recent 1911 Courtship Letter. You can read about it and see lots of old photos on my Author Memories blog.

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  12. I'm hoping to read the entire series in one sit-down so I don't miss a single one, Anita!

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  13. Cool! My hometown boasts the world's largest outdoor hot springs pool, which just celebrated its 125th anniversary, where my SIL is a lifeguard. And yes, it smells of rotten eggs. The Utes used the springs for healing purposes, and growing up, there was nothing like soaking in the hot pool after a long day on the ski slopes!

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  14. I'm feeling rather left out. I've got the cold sulphur springs to visit...I'm more interested in the warm ones.

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  15. This post reminded me of the time I spent a week cross-country skiing in the Kananaskis Valley at the base of the Rockies about an hour west of Calgary. I was staying at the Rafter Six ranch at the time and although they were open and had many patrons in their restaurant, I was the only weekday sleeping guest. I think it was Thurs when the co-owner, the bartender, and the waitress - all women - invited me to go with them for a spa day in Banff.

    Well, duh. I was a bit skeptical of the massage because I'd never had one, but I was quite adventurous and off we went.

    I don't remember much about the massage itself, but I clearly remember feeling like jelly as I walked the short distance from the massage area into the pool. Man, I didn't want to move out of there! They have signs that you shouldn't stay in the hot water more than 10 mins at a time and they practically had to drag me out of that water when my time was up. I was floppier than a wet noodle. LOL

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  16. THAT could become addictive Anita.
    sounds like a super time and rather jet setting, but the best part is the wet noodle - oh to be that relaxed physically. I imagine you slept well!

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  17. Great post! Funny that I had one of my characters from an earlier novel soak in a mineral spring in Colorado. It sparked my curiosity so it was fun learning about the Schooley's Mountain Spring. They said that when steeped for tea it tasted just like regular water.

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