Here’s the thing about temptation: You never know which face it’ll be wearing when you make its acquaintance.
For instance, it could be that sly and sneaky face that inveigles itself into your life and before you know it, there’s a whole part you’d like to delete before anyone else finds out about it.
Or, it could be the one that jumps up and slams you right in the mouth. Just like it did me. And I'll tell you about it.
I was walking along up there by Summit Creek one day, lugging my big yellow litter bag and picking up beer cans and McFastfood wrappers. Nice day. Hot and sunny.
Wasn’t too long before I realized the amount of thirst-quenching liquid I was carrying wasn’t in proportion to the distance I’d bitten off. I was down to the last dregs of Coke Zero and still had a good half mile to go before I reached my truck and the bottle of water there.
Well, I started thinking about that luscious looking creek that plummeted through the culverts under the highway near where I’d parked. White water cascading over boulders, a grassy bank dappled with happy yellow dandelions. I could dump the last of the Coke Zero from the bottle and fill it with crisp, cold mountain stream water. The water’s moving rapidly. It’s exposed to the sun for long stretches. Should be okay.
As I trudged along behind the guard rail picking up soda bottles and latte cups, I thought I heard singing from off my starboard side:
Keep a-movin’, Dan, don’t ya listen to him , Dan.
He’s a devil, not a man,
and he spreads the burning sand with wa-ter.
Cool, clear wa-ter…
I looked around, but couldn’t find anything that could be the source of that old Sons of the Pioneers song, but those words made me even more thirsty. I imagined feeling wobbly from dehydration. I took another sip of the Coke Zero, which by now seemed warmer than air temperature and icky, sticky, and yucky.
I saw the creek ahead of me, just a hundred yards at most. I yearned for the cold water going down my throat, washing away the glacial grit in my mouth.
Oh, Dan, can’t you see that great green tree
Where’s the water’s runnin’ free and it’s waiting there
For you and me-e-e-e.
With water, cool, clear, water…
In my mind the Coke Zero became a vile, medicinal, nasty potion. I vowed I'd make it a bit farther.
Cool, clear, water…
I tied off the full litter bag and set it alongside the pavement for the highway guys to pick up. The backpack came off so I could get another empty bag. I gazed at the bottle of Coke, put it back in the backpack. I wanted water. I NEEDED water.
I leaned against the outside of the guardrail and looked around me. I’ve always liked this stretch of the highway. There used to be an old log cabin over there where my truck is parked. It was so picturesque it could have been a perfect icon for
Mountains line both sides of the valley. My husband had bagged his first moose around the corner, up in the willow thickets on that mountain right in front of me.
Black and white caught my eye—several pairs of Barrow’s Goldeneyes were paddling happily around a mound big enough to be a Class C motor home. As I realized I was looking at the mother of all beaver lodges, I spotted the tell-tale wake from a furry little brown head swimming through the pond, heading my way.
Keep a-movin’, Dan, don’t ya listen to him, Dan…
I don’t need no stinkin’ Giardia, I told myself. Drink the Coke Zero and get back to the truck. There’s water there.
But, it’ll be warm and yucky, temptation whined.
Giardia. Beaver fever. Nasty little intestinal parasite.
And it’s waitin’ there for you and me-e-e, with water…
The devil made me do it. I took only a sip. Not even a mouthful. Certainly no where near what I needed to quench my thirst. I dipped it from the fastest flowing part of the creek, eyed it suspiciously as if I could see multi-legged critters in it. A wee, bitty, little sip.
If you don’t hear from me after a few days go by, you’ll know where I am. I’ll be spending my days in my bathroom, cursing beavers and the Sons of the Pioneers.