1. The father is able to locate underground water sources by using a forked alder branch.
2. The father seems to think that formal education is not as useful as the information he can pass to his son. This is evident in the following quotations: “After I started going to school my father scarcely talked any more” (p. 104) “my father had little skill for it (spelling) ... and was convinced I was no longer interested in hearing him tell of his adventures ...” (p. 104) “It isn't something you learn in school. And it isn't useless: a man can get along without writing and arithmetic, but he can never get along without water.” (p. 105)
3. The title lets us know that the “secret” is lost so this helps to prepare us for the fact that the the narrator is unable to find water. Also, the narrator did not follow in his father's footsteps; instead he moved away from home going to school and travelling the world. He didn't practise the skill and so it isn't a surprise that he is unable to find water at the end of the story.
4. The farmer feels that “fathers can't pass on anything to the next generation” (p. 106) because of his own family situation. He had spent his whole life working and developing a farm that he hoped to pass on to his children, however, they do not want to receive this inheritance, even though it was the finest farm in the area. Obviously the old man is saddened and disappointed by this and feels that children do not want what their fathers can pass on.
5. A main theme from this story is that older generations have knowledge to pass to the newer generations but unless it is valued, this knowledge will be lost. Another theme is that formal education is important but so are the lessons and knowledge we gain from the wisdom of others.
6. The climax is “The alder stayed motionless in my hands and the water beneath the earth refused to sing.” (p. 106)
7. “A Secret Lost in the Water” is a perfect title because the son is unable to make the alder branch shake (and therefore can't discover water) so his father's secret of finding water is lost.