There’s a full moon over Galway tonight, and the water tower high on the hill seems to cast its shadow away from the handful of designer houses huddled in empty cul-de-sacs, slathering the concrete Costco shell in winter dark instead. Not-quite-Costco seems not to mind the darkness nor the freezing wind screaming through its insides, and why should it? Our hard-earned millions will burn bright and hot there soon enough, and perhaps the resulting commercial bonfire will be magnanimous enough to lend a little of its heat and light to those of us beyond the moat of clustered roundabouts, we who will very soon need all the help we can get with those two elements.
It’s hard not to wonder about old Galway’s big tin can and the innumerable gallons of cold, clear Newfoundland water it will hoard in its belly. Building it up there, in woods that had been raw and wild and useless until they found themselves suddenly for sale, must’ve been a bit of a megaproject itself, though, admittedly, not Muskrat mega. Few things are. However, as is the way with most important things, it’s easy to be smitten by spectacle and forget all about function. There might be a whole lake's worth of water bound up inside that big blue bucket, but that water was carried by miles of pipe. And the water that feeds the pipe — all water, actually — is just the product of water that came before it: snowmelt, the ever-present rain, even the water pulled from the blood of all Beothuk who ever lived, before, of course, there were no Beothuk left to bleed.
Really, we’re all swimming around in that tower. Tiny parts of us, anyway. The sweat that popped from our foreheads when we were forced to become (hopefully) temporary mainlanders and start over? Some of that’s in there. The sea spray we wiped from our faces when we puttered away from the dead cove for the last time, dragging our little saltboxes behind us? That, too. The centuries worth of tears shed when the sea took so many of our relatives and children and friends, and those we cried when it refused to give up its bounty any longer and ruined us? Bits of those also swirl in the dark, mingled with the sea that birthed them.
And while we're talking water, what of those falls in Labrador? Quebec might funnel the Churchill into their pockets, and the mighty Muskrat might wring from us the final atom of optimism ever felt in this province, but some minuscule part of those falls will end up inside the tower as well.
Though this particular water tower might have the exclusive fortune of Galway residency, meaning that the vast majority of us will never be refreshed by the still lake within its metal walls, it’s certain we will all eventually get what’s coming to us. It may take generations, but one day even the great tide of condensation currently forming on the windows inside the Confederation Building will filter into the earth and emerge as sideways rain — each drop composed of a “lowballed estimate” or “boondoggle” or some other halfhearted concession not worth the breath it was carried on.
And once again we will brace ourselves against the storm and attempt to figure out how to keep from drowning.