To the gods of adjustable water temperature

Kristin at 3982W36As I knelt before the gods of adjustable water temperature and let the ablutions of cool water run over my head, I reflected on the skill at which I had managed to keep water out of my ears and soap out of my eyes and how this skill had been acquired over a number of years. I wondered upon this simple act of washing my hair.

As a child, my mother washed my hair, her hands in moving blessing upon my head, being so careful to keep the stinging soap from running in rivulets to my eyes; and how, if that were not successful, I would wail and let her know of my distress. Patting with a soft towel came next, to stop the stinging, and then to wrap my child’s head in a turban of towel.

Later, I was consigned to undertake the ablutions of my tresses by myself. The most vivid recollection of this is standing by the upstairs sink and putting my head under the flowing tap, sudsing up and then letting the water runnel about my head until all the soap was gone. There was a lovely, deep blue towel that Mother had had forever, with a carved pattern of same coloured diamond in it. With time, it had become, it seemed to me, far more absorbent than newer towels. I struggled with the act of making my own turban. It had a tendency to loosen and fall about my face and shoulders. My hair was long. I wore it in two braids; and when I washed it, it took a long time to dry. I was ten.

As an aside, I kept the last of those midnight blue towels until last year when it finally could go on no longer. It was almost threadbare and had a hole or two in it, but the selvedge was still strong and unfrayed. It had survived hand washing and wringer washing then automatic washing for sixty yeats. It had been dried out in the sunshine on the line for twenty years or so and later in a dryer, for another forty,  and still it had it’s deep midnight blue colour. It had served remarkably well.

We envied the Swiss girl down the end of the block who had blond braids right down to her waist. We marvelled at the length and breadth of them and how she could wear them, crossing right over the top of her head in a crown or looped around her nape and pinned with curl of them around her ears. But she was different. Foreign. And we never really made friends with her.

She was, perhaps, like my freckled friend Susan who also had long braids down to her waist, but hers were copper coloured. She boasted that when she washed her hair, she had to put her head near the open oven door to dry it.

Then I wore my hair in an upturned bouffant of the ‘Sixties in adulation of Jacqueline Kennedy. It took quite a bit of coaxing and wrapping in uncomfortable curlers to achieve this so-desired look; only to be defeated by the mists and fogs of Vancouver that could ruin it in a trice.

In between then and now, I have searched for an acceptable look with the minimum in care. I had high hopes for a permanent wave but it didn’t suit – and didn’t work either. The curls went their way, not mine. The smell of it was gagging. How could I possibly have thought it would make me beautiful?

I reverted to the long hair and even braids when I turned hippie, and only gave that up when I had to go back into the corporate world, the world of work and conformity. I went, silently kicking and screaming, as a hippie in disguise.

Now I have a bob. It starts out short and is well enough cut to last a few months, going through stages as it lengthens. As I allowed the tap to bless my head with flowing water this morning, I was thankful.

I am thankful for the blessing of adequate water. I am thankful that I live in a corner of the world where I can keep clean by means of a good soak in a tub full of water. I’m thankful for the electricity that heats it; and the mixing valve that can adjust the water’s temperature to my seasonal desire for it. I am thankful for small things and small rituals and find miracles in them.

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One Response to “To the gods of adjustable water temperature”

  1. wrjones Says:

    Being thankful; an excellent thought!

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