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-dog-smelling 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 bladder-bursting 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.
“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.
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.”
Of course not, Dearest Duck never gets on my nerves.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.