Nor any drop to drink

The Compass - - COMMUNITY BOARD - Harold N. Wal­ters

Over 200-years-ago Sammy Tay­lor Co­leridge wrote a vi­ciously long poem about an an­cient sailor called — “The Rime of the An­cient Mariner.” You might re­mem­ber it, es­pe­cially if you’re of an age to have had a pedan­tic English teacher force you to me­morize a slew of its verses.

In the poem, the sailor’s ship is be­calmed in the Dol­drums, or the Horse Lat­i­tudes, some such half-ways mythic lo­ca­tion far south of Dun­der­land, a place where the winds aren’t con­stant. The crew has gone for ages with­out a sup of wa­ter and all hands are chok­ing for a drink.

One illustration I’ve seen shows the wiz­ened, de­hy­drated an­cient mariner draped over the gun­nel, star­ing at the briny ocean and croak­ing, “Wa­ter, wa­ter ev­ery­where/Nor any drop to drink.”

Bet he’d love to shuff his head into Muskrat Falls, eh b’ys?

He’d hap­pily at­tempt to glutch ‘er dry, with nary a thought of hy­dro­elec­tric power in his nog­gin.

For that mat­ter, the an­cient mariner would hap­pily gull down a tum­bler of lo­cal tap wa­ter. The killer doses of chlo­rine in the wa­ter might make him screw up his mouth but he wouldn’t care dood­ley-squat about trick­les of wet-dogsmelling bog wa­ter drool­ing down his chin.

“Harry,” says the bright­est blub in my life’s chan­de­lier. “Did you ask for a drink of wa­ter?”

“No, my Duck, I’m just recit­ing poetry. Chant­ing an­cient verse.” And, con­sid­er­ing nor any drop to drink. Cer­tainly Dunville isn’t alone in Dun­der­land for hav­ing a mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter sup­ply that ap­pears un­fit to drink, even if boiled un­til the kitchen win­dow steams.

Never mind ap­pear­ing un­fit for drink­ing; there are times when it ap­pears un­fit for flush­ing. That’s a lie. Ac­tu­ally at times, a house­hold’s toi­let bowl looks like the whole fam­ily, and pos­si­bly blad­der­burst­ing neigh­bours who dropped in, “made their wa­ter” and failed to flush.

So, if you ev­ery come to visit us, our sense of good taste will cause us to refuse if you ask for a drink of wa­ter. That’s another lie. In truth we’ll refuse you a glass of tap wa­ter, the H2O plus pond muck and run-off that gushes from our pipes. We will of­fer you a choice among al­ter­na­tive sub­sti­tutes.

“Harry,” says Dear­est Duck in a voice like an ed­i­to­rial pen. “The wa­ter isn’t that bad af­ter we fil­ter it in the Brita jug.” Now Dear­est Duck is telling lies. We hove out the Brita jug fil­ter years ago. Now the wa­ter in the jug is H2O plus — we hope — God’s be-in-good-health bless­ings. It’s col­lected from the open end of a cor­rod­ing cast iron pipe pro­trud­ing from the earth near a com­mu­nity church.

We’ll of­fer you a glass filled to the brim. It’s crys­tal clear, cold as ice and only in hot mid-sum­mer is there any at­ten­dant risk of beaver-fever. “Harry!” “OK, my Duck.” There’s bot­tled wa­ter, of course. We could hand it to you poured or pris­tine in the bot­tle. Sadly, it would be the cheap stuff, bought at Costco for dimes a bot­tle.

The ex­pen­sive H2O, the melt of ice­bergs towed down from Green­land by a skein of he­li­copters or what­ever, we only stock at Christ­mas. We keep it in a spe­cial cab­i­net along with pre­cious crocks of … well, let’s say herbal tea.

You’re wel­come to un­twist a cap dur­ing the hol­i­days. “Harry?” “What, for…?” Right, the thirsty an­cient mariner. The fol­low­ing line re­veals how the shriv­elled old jack-jar even­tu­ally slaked his thirst: “I bit my arm, I sucked the blood.” “Harry!” Of course not, Dear­est Duck never gets on my nerves. Truly. Ear­lier I men­tioned how de­lighted the an­cient mariner would have been had he been able to stick his head in the end­less flow of Muskrat Falls.

Mostly, I don’t think about Muskrat Falls, or the an­cient mariner, for that mat­ter. I do know that de­vel­op­ment — what­ever that means — of Muskrat Falls is a con­tro­ver­sial topic at all com­pass points in Dun­der­land.

I also know that peren­ni­ally in Dun­der­land there are boil or­ders in one com­mu­nity or another be­cause … oh, p’raps, akin to our Brita jug’s ab­sent fil­ter, there’s fil­ter prob­lems up at the reser­voir.

I know the Churchill is a big river with some im­pres­sive white wa­ter but …

… but maybe more folks would be served in Dun­der­land if less time was spent fuss­ing about the big streams and more time was spent dab­bling in the smaller brooks. Thank you for read­ing. — Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com.

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