世上最好飲的水

 

世上最好飲的水,我在日本滋賀琵琶湖山腳喝到了。

 

2012年1月隆冬,正在日本工作假期的我,在琵琶湖旁的一個小農莊wwoof(免費食宿、無人工、六日工作),農莊有自來水,但僅供洗碗拖地,飲用水另外在貯水器內,飲用水與非飲用水嚴格區分。

 

一日,農莊內的飲用水快喝光了,木野老闆要到雪山打水,讓我與另一位日本女wwoofer「万里子」一起幫忙,於是我們帶了十多個貯水器,坐上小卡車出發了。

 

車程約90分鐘,小卡車慢慢由貼近琵琶湖的農莊,爬升至雪山,窗外藍天漸漸染白,人跡漸少,樹木漸密,到了雪山山腳,更刮起大風雪,細雪敲得車窗咯咯作響。雪山山腳下有一條小村落,大部份古民房已半埋雪中,當時天地皆白,映得民房黝黑,世上彷剩黑白二色。

 

下車後得走一小段上坡路才到泉口,我一打開車門,風雪猛烈地撲上來,我向後跌倒,幸好万里子即時扶實我,木野老闆瞄了一眼,只叫我們快拿貯水器上坡,自己已頭也不回地奔向泉口;木野老闆在坡道上碰見一村婦,兩人有禮問好後即離開,村婦手提貯水瓶向村前行,附近村民大概都喜歡喝雪山泉水。

 

泉口是個小小的圓,面積比一個雙手環抱的圓稍大,泉口周圍都鋪滿厚實白雪,泉內的水卻是流動的,水色深沉,偶爾反射雪光,透出一抹亮麗。

 

木野老闆將接上泉口的水管塞入貯水器,水注滿後就提着貯水器返回小卡車,滿水後的貯水器頗重,我怕打翻,每次只提一個貯水器,慢慢地走下坡,我放好一個貯水器時,木野老闆與万里子已各自放好兩個,木野老闆眼色一厲,皺了眉,向我咆哮:「早く!早く!(快點!快點!)」

 

在香港做慣文職的我,體力遠不如他們,而且香港不下雪,我連雪地都未行過,還要提着(對我來說)沉重的貯水器,寒冷、地滑、落斜、重物,然後老闆在催促,我有點不知所措,不過心不能亂,唯有頂硬上,繼續提着貯水器下坡。

 

這時万里子搶上我與木野老闆中間,低頭連聲說:「はい!はい!(是!是!)」然後一個箭步躍下坡,這彷如脫兔的敏捷,真的好嚴害。

我不知木野老闆剛才是單單向我咆哮,還是向我身後的万里子咆哮,還是向我們兩個咆哮,總之万里子這一跳,幫我擋了一鑊,感激。

 

忙了一輪,終於將十多個貯水器注滿水,平安弄到小卡車上,木野老闆讓我們喝剛打來的水,我正狐疑:「怎麼喝未煲過的水?」

但旅行屢屢打破局限於香港的常識,抵不住勞動後的乾竭,啜了一小口,又喝了一大口,最後連飲好幾口,這水,好好喝啊!

我終於明白什麼叫crystal clear,原來crystal clear要用「飲」來感覺,不是用「看」來理解,雪水在手中感覺冰涼,但喝下肚子裏,卻一點涼意都感受不到,反而像喝下了閃閃發光的水晶,叮叮噹噹地溶在體內;踩在腳下的白雪,捧在手上的雪水,喝下肚裏的水晶,全都連成一線,而我置身其中,我也是這線上的一點,之前得享,之後得還,今日享受了大自然的給予,他朝腐爛的肉體返還大地,自然本是一個完美圓環。

 

之後在農莊都喝這雪水,那種crystal clear的感覺仍如影隨形,證明不是勞動後累極幻覺,離開滋賀時,我特地盛滿一瓶雪水才離開農莊,望着愈飲愈少的至味雪水,緣來則聚,緣盡則散,點點不捨就當是下期相會的醍醐味吧。

 

 

The most delicious water on Earth

 

I had drunk the most delicious water in Lake Biwa, Shiga, Japan.

 

It was a cold winter in January 2012. I was wwoofing (free accommodation, no salary with 6 days’ work) in a small farm near Lake Biwa. The tap water and the drinking water were strictly separated in the farm. The tap water was just for cleaning.

 

One day, the drinking water in the farm was nearly finished. Boss Kino ordered me and another Japanese female wwoofer ‘Mariko’ to fetch the water. So we took a dozen of water buckets and drove off.

 

We drove from Lake Biwa and up in the snow mountain for around 90 minutes. The sky turned from blue to white slowly and less and less people but more and more trees. There was storm when we approached the foot of the snow mountain. The houses were half-covered by snow in the village near the foot of the snow mountain. It seems all the colors were gone but white left for the sky and ground and black left for the wooden houses.

 

There was a strong wind with snow blown to me when I opened the truck door and I fell back. Thanks God that Mariko got me so I didn’t hurt myself. Boss Kino just glimpsed at us and ordered us to take the water buckets to the well fast and he already rush to the well on his own.

Boos Kino met a lady from the village and both were greeting politely and going on their way. The village lady carried a water bucket on her hand and it seems the villagers also drank the snow water.

 

There was thick firm white snow around the little well. The water in the well was flowing and shiny reflected the snow occasionally.

 

Boss Kino connected the tube from the well and the water bucket and waited for the water to fill up and carried the buckets back to the truck.

I took one bucket at a time and walked slowly down the slope because I was afraid the bucket would overthrow. Boss Kino and Mariko both fetched 2 buckets already when I finished the first bucket. Boss Kino stared at me, frowned, and roared, ‘早く!早く!(Quicker! Quicker!)’

 

I was always working in an office in Hong Kong and couldn’t compare them with strength. Hong Kong never snow and I hadn’t walked on ground with snow before and I needed to carry a heavy (for me) bucket with coldness, slip, slope, heavy and the boss is pressing so I was at one's wits end. But I couldn’t be lost and I had to carry on with the water bucket down the slope.

 

Mariko stepped in between Boss Kino and me and lower her head and apologized, ‘はい!はい!(Yes! Yes!)’ and just JUMPED down the slope with the water buckets.

It was such an amazing jump.

I didn’t know if Boss Kino roared at me alone or roared at Mariko who stood behind me or roared at both of us. Mariko had ward me for her jump, salute to her.

 

We finally got all the water buckets filled up and fetched them back to the truck. Boss Kino let us drank the snow water we just fetched and I hesitated, ‘How can we drink un-boiled water?’

Travel always broke norms. (Tape water can’t be drunk directly in Hong Kong, we always boil the water before we drink) I was so thirsty because of the physical labor I just did so I took a small sip. And another sip. And a big drank. This water was so DELICIOUS!

Now I understood what is ‘crystal clear’. We have to ‘drink’ the crystal clear instead of ‘look’ at it. The snow was cold on hand but warm in stomach. It was like drinking a strand of shiny crystals and they were melting inside my body. A circle was form between the snow I stepped on, the snow I held on hand and the snow I drank. I was a dot on this circle and what I have enjoyed now would have to give back later. I drank from the nature today and my decayed body would return to earth tomorrow. It is always a perfect circle in the nature world.

 

Later on we drank this snow water in the farm every day. I still felt the ‘crystal clear’ whenever I drank it and knowing it was not an illusion of exhaustion.

 

I filled up a full bottle of snow water when I leave the Shiga farm. The most delicious water became less and less and everything/everyone met when they have to meet and everything/everyone left when they have to leave. Let’s save this feeling as a memorial if we meet next time.

打水途中刮起大風雪,我們要等剷雪車清理積雪後,才能繼續駛向雪山。

There was a snow storm on the way and we had to wait for the snow-cleaning-truck.

鄰近泉口的村屋

Village houses near the well.

万里子正在閱讀耕作入門書,希望未來從事農業。

Mariko was reading books about agriculture and hope to be a farmer.