Water, water…but not everywhere

Nick Wolochatiuk - Dances With Words
Water, water…but not everywhere
(Photo : Seaway News)

For cyclists, joggers, hikers, construction workers and travellers, water is not always readily available. They quite often have to rely upon the hospitality and thoughtfulness of others, whether they are home owners, restaurants or tourist information centres.

During the days before turn signals replaced hand signals, and sliced bread hadn’t been invented, there were street corner drinking fountains. On one side was a trough for the horse that pulled the milkman’s, baker’s or delivery man’s wagon. On the other side, a spigot for thirsty people. (My wife Juliet tells me that during her childhood in England, there was a tin cup on a chain that provided drinking water for anyone with a thirst.)

Simultaneous with the advent of the transistor radio and ball-point pens came more enlightened concerns for public health, then COVID. Long gone are the street corner water fountains.

However, a promising new development is coming onto the scene. One example is to be found in Brockville’s waterfront park public washroom. A drinking fountain includes a spigot that dispenses refrigerated water for visitors’ water bottles.

1994, on my first visit to Cuba, during the notorious ‘Periodo Especial’, everything was scarce. After three hours of walking the narrow back streets of Havana in the sizzling heat I became quite dehydrated. Of course, there were no Tim’s or McD’s to refill my water bottle. I hesitantly approached a young woman. Out of my parched lips came my scanty knowledge of Spanish. Gesturing with my empty canteen, I uttered. “Por favor – agua potable?”

Motioning me to follow her, she took the water bottle, led me along a back alley, up a narrow flight of stairs, then seated me in her tiny one-room second-floor apartment. The only light came from the open window that let in a slight breeze. With gestures, she indicated, “Wait here.” More than 15 minutes later, she returned with my canteen filled with water – and ice! Only in tourist restaurants in Cuba would you find ice cubes.

I’m quite sure that young lady was familiar with Matthew 25: 35 & 40. May she be blessed.

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