“There is no small pleasure in sweet water.” Ovid

Oil may be the lifeblood of the global industry, the stuff of speculation, profits and war, but water is the lifeblood of life. Over the years, the Independent has devoted significant resources to documenting threats to our water table and citizens’ efforts to preserve this most indispensable fuel for living. We’ve reported on degradations of aquifers in the hog country to the east, encroaching developmentand its accompanying toxic runoffalong the Eno, and the overburdened Neuse River that recently debuted on the American Rivers foundation’s annual list of endangered rivers.

In this year’s Indy Summer Guide, we’re putting the bad news aside and focusing instead on why we love water in the summertime. Our writers ventured as far afield as the Uwharrie National Forest, as far below the surface as the bottom of a flooded rock quarry, and as close to home as an urban park. Please consider these as suggestions for close-to-home getawaysan idea that gets ever more appealing as the cost of gas approaches $4 a gallon. And, for more summer merrymaking ideas, we’ve assembled a guide to outdoor festivals of various kinds.

And while you’re sampling the refreshments of the cool water of your choice, consider becoming involved with one of the numerous organizations in the region devoted to preserving the quality of our water resources, such as the Haw River Assembly, the Eno River Association or The Neuse River Foundation.

Have fun, and bring a towel.