Every month, like clockwork, we make the journey north — or possibly west — to fill our water jugs at the Cooper Spring in Buckfield. Or possibly South Paris, it depends on which map you’re using.

The ride to the spring is half the fun. The journey takes us down the winding roads of Minot, through bucolic and vaguely creepy stretches of Hebron and into the mountainous regions of Buckfield, where legend has it that bald eagles soar with American flags clutched in their talons.

As we drive, the water jugs rattle and jump in the back seat like hyperactive children eager to reach their destination.

“Shush,” we scold them, “or we’ll turn this car around and nobody will get to go to the spring.”

Talking to water jugs as though they were children — we are quite insane, you know; a direct result of drinking all that fluoride they put in city water. Horrible stuff, fluoride. Don’t get us started.

The insanity is gradually wearing off, I’m pleased to relate, because for the past five or six years, we’ve been using Cooper Spring water exclusively for all of our needs outside of water balloons and squirt guns.


I believe Cooper Spring water is purified by teams of elves that live in the hollows of nearby trees. It’s crisp and clean and free of all those brain-numbing chemicals that ooze through your taps like liquid evil. Don’t take our word for it, though. Take a ride out to the spring one fine summer day and you’ll see the popularity of the water in action. The trip generally goes like this:

You arrive at the spring after a long series of bumps, heaves and road craters that have emptied your mouth of all dental fillings. The bumpy ride has left your bladder throbbing and the water jugs are arguing viciously in the backseat, but lo! Behold the wonder of the spring down there at the bottom of the hill. The trees crowd in around the gurgling water like protective parents. Across the street, a rolling green field stretches into infinity.

And alongside the spring are parked at least half a dozen cars, because unless you make this trip at 3 in the morning, on a sunny day Cooper Spring is among the most popular spots in the greater Buckfield (or possibly South Paris) area.

Pulling into the row, you silently calculate the amount of time you will spend here based on the water-craving people ahead of you. The person at the spring feed is a woman about 108 years old filling Mason jars with that crystalline water. She probably just needs enough for cooking and for watering her 87 cats. She’ll be out of there in no time.

Second in line is a surly looking man sitting in a battered pickup truck and furiously smoking a cigar. You can see a few old Army cans peering over the back of the truck — if that’s all he has, he’s nothing to worry about. He’ll be done in two minutes.

Third in line is a smoking hot young lady in Daisy Dukes and a tank top. She’s leaning against the hood of her Camaro, like something out of a beer commercial, and smiling vaguely at her smartphone. It’s crazy, but I think this lass is here to fill up just one single bottle for the ride home. And more power to her, I say.


Next in line, a couple and a dog in a minivan. This is worrisome. You can’t see inside a minivan, so you just don’t know. They might have just a few gallon jugs to fill, or they might have 80 five-gallon containers. It’s a crap shoot, my friends. I might approach the van to inquire about their filling plans, but that dog looks mean and the lady in the Daisy Dukes intimidates me.

On a nice day, the people in line will find ways to occupy themselves while waiting to fill their jugs. Here’s a young man standing by the side of the road and bouncing a soccer ball on his knee.

Here’s a studious woman wandering into the woods above the spring. She acts as though she’s studying the flora and fauna up there, but we suspect she’s looking for a place to pee.

Here’s a young couple retreating to the field across the street to take photos of one another against the ocean of green in the backdrop. So adoring. So in love.

Of course, the photos will eventually reveal that the young Romeo was staring at ol’ Daisy Dukes the whole time and that will be the end of that. Ah, youth.

A trip to Cooper Spring is a “by God” event. At night, it’s a blinding moon, deer staring from fields and spring water talking in secret whispers. During the daytime, it’s the glory of nature, the baking hot sun and weirdos in minivans.

It’s elves who live in trees and water jugs that argue in the back seat the whole ride home. That may just be the fluoride, though.

At this point, I’m not really sure.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. Thirsty forest nymphs can email him at [email protected]


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