Page 54 - WTP Vol. IX #7
P. 54

The Lookout (continued from preceding page)
 five-gallon buckets with lids on them and stashed in various crannies of the lookout. He set her bags of rice, beans, and dried tofu on the shelves. He won’t be eating much of her stuff. Not a candy bar in sight.
“I’m going to give you some space for a bit while I do some exploring.” Star put on a baseball cap with a big peace sign on the front. On her way out the door she said, “There must be water around here. Want me to get some?”
“Much appreciated. Grab a water jug at the base of the tower. I’m afraid you’re going to have to put on the pack frame near the jugs. Lash the full jug to the pack.”
Star rubbed her shoulders subconsciously. “No point fussing about it. We’re going to need water. How far is it?”
“About a half-mile down the side of the mountain, there’s a narrow trail going down opposite the side you came up. It starts right past the outhouse.” Holt moved to the side of the tower and pointed it out to Star. “It’s actually a small damned up spring.”
“I think I’m going to soak my feet and wash up— downstream of our drinking water supply.” Star put on her hiking boots and thunk-thunked down the forty-two steps of the metal stairwell.
Holt watched her meander down the trail, disappear- ing into a thicket. Without turning her back she waved her hand as if she knew she was watched.
Two hours later, Star returned with the container of water strapped to the pack frame and a five-gallon bucket in her hand. Holt watched her approach in the late afternoon heat. The beauty of life in a lookout was seeing everything. It all unfolded right in front
of Holt because he was highest and always observ- ing, even when he wasn’t conscious of it. Movement, changes in light, and clouds morphing into objects not noticed in another setting, were enough to give pause and ponder them.
“What should I do with the water?” Star yelled up to the tower.
“Hold on, I’ll be right down.” Holt scrambled down the stairwell and helped remove the pack from Star’s back. “What’s in the bucket?”
“It’s a surprise. I’ll show you later.” 47
“Let me show you what we do with the water.” A double pulley system was rigged from the upper part of the tower and the rope hung down to almost ground level where it was tied off to the base of the tower. “No need to haul that up the tower when we have this handy set up right here.” He tied the jug
to the pulley system and hauled it skyward until it reached the metal arm extending over the tower’s catwalk. Holt knotted the rope at the bottom of the tower. “That was easy.”
Star looked at the water jug suspended thirty-five feet over her head. “How much can that thing lift?”
“I don’t know exactly but it’s pretty heavy duty. I think they hauled up all the building material, pro- pane tanks, and other stuff with it. That metal arm is like an I-beam and it’s got at least eight lag bolts in the wall. Don’t worry, that jug isn’t going to fall on our heads.”
They finished eating dinner—lentils for Star and macaroni and cheese for Holt—when Holt remem- bered the five gallon bucket Star carried. “What’s in the bucket?”
“More food. I set it in the woods below tree line on the way up.”
“You mean you hauled a bucket and pack eleven miles?”
“I stopped more often because my arms got tired. Switched arms a lot too.”
Holt glanced at her arms. They weren’t overly mus- cular, more sinewy than anything. He knew what
it took to haul a filled five-gallon bucket uphill for eleven miles. His admiration for Star grew. My God, she could be here all summer.
The sun began to go down and Star said, “Let’s sit outside and watch the sunset.”
“I’m afraid I have only one chair but you can use the bucket to sit on.”
“That will work.” She stepped out into the cool air. “Oh, I love the way the air feels and smells. Do you smell it?”
Holt wasn’t sure what the “it” was but the air did feel good. When the sun went down further, the air turned bracing.

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