Drinking In Love's Spring

A pilgrimage to a traditional source of drinking water

Love's Spring flows from the small hillside between Love's Creek Road—a narrow, twisty highway off Rutledge Pike—and the banks of Love's Creek. A wooden pavilion shelters the remains of an older springhouse with folk-art flowers painted on its concrete ruins. Water seeps around the old foundations nurturing a healthy crop of watercress, a spicy and delicious aquatic green. Under the pavilion, a cast iron pipe set in concrete channels the water out of the ground. I grew up with a shallow well as the source of our tap water, so watching this constantly running faucet makes me a little uneasy. I am in awe over that abundance of drinking water spilling onto the ground. It is a little miracle that at Love's Spring water pours ceaselessly from the ground, and we can drink it.

People say Love's water tastes better than any expensive commercial bottled water. Every day of the week you can watch a steady trickle of people backing their cars down to the springhouse to fill up their trunks with jugs and bottles and cisterns of Love's water. People set their jugs under the spring then straighten up, stretch, take in the sights and sounds and tastes of this cool, mossy place. It is possible to see herons, turtles, and other interesting water creatures in the nearby creek. For some people it is a monthly pilgrimage. Jim Cane, a construction worker, spent almost 20 minutes last Saturday filling many large jugs with water. He says he always keeps a cooler of Love's water on the job site.

"My grandmother got her water from this spring her whole life," one lady says, "And I'm 62!" Someone else speculates that a springhouse has been on this site for at least 100 years.

The people who visit Love's Spring like knowing the source of their drinking water. The source of tap water is often opaque. Wherever it came from, it needed a lot of added chemicals to make it drinkable. Some people suspect that whole commercial bottled water enterprise is somehow bogus, and anyway, unlike Dasani or Evian, the water at Love's Spring is free. "Nothing in life is free," says Jermaine Hendricks, "But this is. This spring is one of the last great things left in this world. One of the last vestiges of hope for me."

A footbridge leads over the creek into Springplace Park. The park has natural spring-fed pools, greenways, nature trails, picnic tables and a children's playground. Some families make a day of it. Once this summer I was near the spring, picking up trash in the creek, and spotted a Styrofoam McDonald's cup caught against a large rock. (I was surprised to see an identical cup floating down First Creek, and later another one at Mascot quarry. "Get Quenched" read the big letters on the side.) I reached over to pick it up, and paused. That's a odd shaped rock, I thought. On closer inspection, it wasn't a rock. It a was a huge snapping turtle relaxing in the shade.

I left the McDonald's trash in the creek and went away feeling trembly. Twisting a tap in my kitchen has never been so exciting.