The Kiss of Water

My gate, first dusting of snow, Ladakh - Kelly Klein

March 14, 2020

Such delightful, simple joys fill me with gratitude. Home again in the Himalayas, after four and a half months of winter wandering, I find such pleasure in the simplicity of my life here. I am filled with gratitude.


View from my home, Fall, Ladakh - Kelly Klein
The Snow painted mountains framed in my windows hold the moisture that will continue to provide us life. Water, our most precious resource is treated with great respect. Winters are long here, and we carry water from the river to allow us dish washing and bathing and spring water is carried from a bit further up the valley for drinking and cooking. Last year I purchased a 1000 liter black hunk of plastic that sits in my covered greenhouse. It was filled last fall, before my trip, when there was still water in the pipe that comes from a spring on my side of the valley.  This pipe only runs a few months a year and is frozen the rest. I expect this tank to last me until the glaciers begin melting in late spring when farmers compete for the flow to flood the fields so seeds can begin their short growing season. I won’t see water until those further up the valley have satisfied their needs. We waste none of it, competing to irrigate throughout the days and nights of early summer. I occasionally was able to hijack water into my canal at 3 am last year, but rarely.  So this ugly monstrosity of black plastic holds this precious resource to last me until June. 



Today I had decided it was time for a bath. Many Ladakhis can make it two weeks between baths, but it’s too much for me. I heated a large pan half full of my liquid gold and then added cool water as needed to attain the right, rich temp for a bath. Dropping a folded feedbag over my young spinach and chard plants in my greenhouse, I stepped onto it gingerly and began the delicious ritual. Dipping an old measuring cup into the pan, I sparingly wet my body, soaped up with a natural blended shampoo bar that serves for all my bathing needs. Rinsing is beyond pleasure. Hot water kissing my face and shoulders, the back of my kneck, running the length of my body, rinsing away dirt and stress. I am so fully present to this experience. There is nothing more heavenly, nothing more beautiful than the feeling of the water on my skin. The plastic greenhouse cover whips gently with the breeze while I am immersed in a glorious love affair with water. I vary my position on the feedbag from time to time to allow the runoff to reach different plants. Finished, I carefully step into my crocs trying to avoid the dirt with wet feet, and spread the remaining water puddled on the feedbag to the other thirsty seedlings in the bed.  Nearly as pleasurable is treating my clean body to my own lotion I make with a combination of oils, always about 50% coconut oil for thickening, and any combination of apricot, sesame, olive, or neem oil and a bit of lanolin if I still have some. The smell, the texture, the knowing of where it came, when it was made, how it was made, providing comfort and nourishment, fills me with delight. As I gift this old saggy, dry, wrinkled skin with love, again, I am so grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to be present. Grateful for the richness of simplicity, the joy, the satisfaction. And then clothing myself again in layers to work with the cold. This is my life. How rich I am…

Kelly Klein
And then I ask myself, why do I not feel this way when taking a shower when traveling, or using a western toilet? Is it because these things are so standard, so taken for granted? Is it because I am so much more self-reliant here and treat our limited resources with so much more awareness and gratitude? Dry leaves are piled high in my outdoor self-composting toilet, another precious resource for me to use in the making of compost. Not overabundant here in the high desert. Why I am so much more comfortable here, despite how hard life can be? I think it is simply because it is real. I have to rely on my own resourcefulness, my own creativity, my own efforts to grow food, dry it for the long winters when we are cut off from the world for seven months, to repair my home with clay, sand, or rock, to use rubber inner tube pieces for connecting plumbing…


All I know for sure, is that this is where I blossom. I am filled with such gratitude despite sitting here typing with cold stiff fingers. My little mud house is passive solar but the sun hasn’t been out much for the last week so a bit cold inside, freezing outside. But it doesn’t matter. It is my life here. It is real. It is grounding, rewarding, rich. I am so, so rich…

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