War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

water (more things I've learned from the infantry)

the girl and I are at a fiddle camp on a remote lake in Saskatchewan. we came here after the John Arcand Fiddle Festival where the kid won a 1st, a 2nd and a 3rd prize for her fiddle playing… she didn’t want to enter any competitions but I convinced her to as a thank you to the great master himself, John. 3 trophies and $325 richer, kid has a smile on her face.

anyway, we drove 6 hours across dry prairie to the hills of S E Sask. and to the lake. we rolled down our windows as soon as we saw water and quickly rolled them up again as soon as we smelled the lake. sour. revolting. algae skummed. sad.

apparently, K Lake’s water levels have gone down several feet over the past few years. drought? too much building? the lake is surrounded by cottages and subdivisions.

the camp is owned by a church and rented out to the fiddle camp for a few weeks every year. every ounce of water that is consumed/used on site has to be shipped in. every ounce of used water has to be shipped out again. we are told to be careful with our showers, to be aware of every drop of water we use. day 2 and the old priest who runs the joint congratulates us on our water usage.

this reminds me of Wainwrightistan. the roads to FOB Anchor were cut off for over a week and the only water available had to be helicoptered in. for days we went without showers, were rationed on drinking water. I had a birdbath with 2 250 litres of bottled water. one day a soldier told me to go into a blue rocket because he had a basin of hot water waiting for me with which I could wash my hair. it was a glorious experience… washing my hair in a blue rocket… that’s how precious water is/was.

the thing is, one gets used to a certain level of general grime and smell. a certain Captain at Wainwright who showers twice a day in civvie land was observed heading to the blue rocket with his box of baby wipes and made fun of. still, who knows where the army would be without those miraculous little squares of ? (what the hell is in those wipes anyway?) and everybody uses them. I remember meeting a Van Doos at WWright who was depressed because he dropped his box of baby wipes down the blue rocket on his first day in camp. I gave him some of mine.

last week camping in a field for 5 days without showers, I introduced my girl to the infantry birdbath and baby wipe routine. she took to it like a duck to well, water.

water. yes. precious. the oil of the 21st century. the thing wars shall be fought over no doubt.

treat it with respect. let your lawn yellow. take short showers.

precious. a gift. not to be squandered.

signing off from the great Canadian Prairie,


2 Comments (Closed)

Brenda Schmidt

The infantry birdbath and baby wipe routine. These are things that would never occur to me. How little I know about that life. But here I am learning.

Best wishes.

Aug 12 2009 · 15:19

Bob Devine

My generation grew up with having a bath once a week or so. The folks today are really spoiled with their 1 or 2 showers a day but I admit it is a rather nice way to be spoiled.

Aug 12 2009 · 22:25

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled water (more things I've learned from the infantry). It was posted here on August 12, 2009.


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