South Australia is the driest state on the driest continent. And this lack of liquids has clearly driven our friend Ken insane.
Ken is the former owner of our little cottage on French Street. He claims that when he sold the cottage he retained the right to take water from its water tank. About once a week we find him in our back yard filling half a dozen or so half gallon jugs with water.
A brief word of explanation: Because South Australia is so dry, virtually every home has a big water storage tank like the one behind Ken. Elaborate gutter systems ensure that every drop of rainwater is captured in those tanks. It’s as if Frank Herbert’s famous sci-fi novel Dune had come to life.
What does Ken do with all the water he takes from the tank? This is where it gets crazy.
He drinks it.
He claims the tank water is the reason he is so healthy, that it’s full of vitamins and minerals that have made his immune system virtually indestructible.
But here’s the problem.
It may be full of vitamins and minerals, but it’s also full of lots of other stuff. Nasty, nasty stuff. When rainwater falls on the roof, it flows down into the gutters and then into the tank, taking with it everything that had been on the roof. Including bugs. And dirt. And excrement from every animal that’s ever lived in or migrated through the Barossa Valley.
And that’s not even the worst part.
There’s a hole where the gutter meets the tank. A small hole, to be sure, but certainly large enough for a possum or a bird or a lizard to crawl through, fall into the water and die. And rot. And then the whole noxious olio steeps under the blistering Australian sun until it transforms into a hellish witches’ brew.
It’s disgusting. Jamie and I wouldn’t drink that water if we were dying of thirst. Neither would Ken’s wife Sue.
I have given Ken’s unsavory sludge a name. An appropriate name.
So sad that the same mixture that has boosted his immune system has simultaneously destroyed his brain.