#20 The Second Walk
The second walk into town was in the heat and the humidity of the July monsoons.
I was preparing to drive into town to tell G.B. I was out of water. As I walked toward the van I noticed a tire was flat. When I tried to loosen the lug-nuts, I ended up bending the tool I was using. I was stuck.
“G.B., I need you!” I wailed.
I could not walk to town without a drink and I could not stay without one. Grudgingly I looked into London’s bucket, wondering if I could possibly make myself drink from his water. My throat constricted when I saw a dead rodent floating in it. Even London did not have a drink.
When all else fails − search the car! I found three quarters, a dime, two pennies(all Canadian) and two cans of tomato juice. The juice will get me to town, but what about London? The dirty dishes! I had not dumped the dish water or used soap. It was just water flavoured by the morning’s tasty meal. I ladled out the flavorful delight into a bowl and let London drink his fill. If we start “spitting cotton” on the way into town, I thought, we could go to one of the ranch houses in the valley and ask for a drink of water.
I enjoyed the walk to town even though it was long and hot. As soon as we arrived at the stone yard London and I had a cold drink and a rest. I looked forward to the return walk, so I refused a ride home with the men who were driving water out to my trailer.
“No Charle,” G.B. said, “It’s too far to walk back in this heat.”
As London and I plodded along, I decided, G.B. had been right. The day was too hot and the walk was much too far in the midday heat of a summer day.
Four miles from town London found a deep wide puddle, still holding the previous day’s monsoon rain water. He walked to the centre of the puddle, sat down, looked at me, then turned his gaze to the surrounding water. He appeared to be quite pleased with what he saw, like a tenant admiring his new accommodations. Then he gave me the back of his head as if to convey,
"I’m out of your reach and I refuse to move."
During monsoon season, even at five thousand feet, the nights do not cool as they usually do, so the day heats up quickly. As the clouds begin to build the humidity becomes overpowering, the winds come up and the rain breaks loose in torrential downpours that rush down the canyons. Dry washes flood and ditches overflow, carving their way across the red cinder roads. After a few hours of sunshine, one would never know it had rained — except for a few puddles- and the precious rain water held in the cattle-tanks.
I nicely asked London to continue with our walk. After a brief hesitation he complied and off we went, continuing on our second, long, hot walk of the day.
Although we were nearly home (a little more than a mile to go) when we crossed the cattle- guard and turned along the frontage road, I decided I had had enough. I staggered to the shade of a pinyon pine, with London close behind, and planned on staying there until it rained or got dark. I was past caring about a possible rattlesnake to the rear or whether I might be sitting on the route of a centipede, which unlike Canadian cousins reach lengths of over twelve inches. The thought of the climb up the mountain road without water, in the heat and glare of the sun, was intolerable to me, and London was not about to move again.
Unexpectedly, I heard G.B.’s pick-up roaring over the cattle-guard. He pulled up and looked out at a forlorn pair — too weary to rise. He did not hurry to help us into the pick-up, nor did he even offer us a lift. Instead he got out carrying a huge knife and a bulky object wrapped in the Williams News.
While London and I had been trudging along the sun baked, red cinder road, G.B had gone to his house, turned on the swamp cooler and dropped into a short snooze, while a “big ol’ green stri-ped” watermelon frosted down in the freezer!
Carefully G.B. cut open the chilled delight while London and I stared in fascination at the beading pink juice. In his precise way, he cut a half-round slice, stabbed it and offered it to me on the end of the knife. He then cut another slice which he pinched between two rocks, so it would stand, dust and gravel free, for London. A third slice for himself, and we three sat serenely in the shade of the pinyon, wanting for nothing more the world could offer.