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Word on the Street

Posted by Doug Gardner on

So I'm at a community event kicking off the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and there's this three tiered outdoor fountain in the middle of the downtown square. The evening's activities include live music, art & crafts for the kiddos, food trucks...you get the picture. But this fountain. It's one of those old, solid fountains that is made of natural stone and has several dish-like tiers; starting small at the top, getting bigger toward the base, water flowing from tier to tier, into a large basin that keeps recirculating the water (the base or pond is filled with coins, of course). I noticed that, even though this wasn't the closest or best spot for enjoying the music, that the fountain consistently had visitors. Folks sitting on the edge of the fountain chatting. Kids dipping their hands in the water, splashing a friend (or parent!). Couples giving one another a coin to toss in..."Make a wish, honey." To me it felt like maybe, just maybe, the fountain possessed an energy of attraction. Something about the fountain that drew people in. So I decided to ask a few people about what they love about fountains and why. Of all the gorgeous nooks in the park, of all the spots to catch some tunes or a bit of food, they chose the fountain spot.

One couple, probably in their mid- to late-sixties and retired, responded that they love the symbolism of hope that fountains exude. They told me a story of why people put coins in fountains, an explanation of why we make wishes and throw our coins into fountains like this. "Fountains have been around for so long, and are a reminder to us that fresh water wasn't always readily available. We take this for granted. At one time, fresh water was believed to be a gift from the gods. People would toss a coin into a fresh water fountain to send thanks up to the gods. It's a great reminder."

I asked a young girl, maybe 12 years old, what she loved about the fountain and she gave an answer I'd expect from an older adult: "...they make me feel good; the flowing water relaxes people. It almost looks like the water is dancing to the music when it jumps from one level to another, then into the bottom where all the wishes are." Wow.

What draws you? Whatever it is, never forget that feeling.