In the area where I grew up as a child, it was
not all that uncommon
to see hand pumps on wells in yards, barn lots, and fields. Many of
those rural areas had not yet received electricity, so it was necessary
to pump the water by hand. On many of those pumps hung a wire, bent up in hook-like fashion. On this hook would be a tin can. Sometimes it was fairly new, but more often than not it was rusty. This tin can served as a cup with which to catch a drink.
To me as a child and outsiders foreign to life in a rural community, there was nothing that special to this utensil hanging outdoors on a hand pump. I have since found something profound and humbling regarding the tin can at the well.
During hot, summer days, those that worked the fields or tended to stock would take time out when passing this mechanical fountain to dampen a parched throat, revive a muscle-aching body or clear the mind . The water would be drawn and the can would be passed from person to person, the one emptying it, refilling it for those remaining. Conversations would range from the heat of the season to the cost of seed corn; all the while taking in the cool, refreshing water.
The good Earth provided the opportunity
for this communal
gathering. The wise ones who drew and consumed the gift from her bounty
understood the relationship. Those outside the realm of wisdom knew
it simply as a drink of water from a rusty tin can.