Windward Review


Volume 18, 2021

He could stay here at Coongie

and simply leave, assuming he

was still able, if anyone arrived.

He could walk back to the big

Old Man Saltbush, where he’d

dislodged the brown snake—

he’d be unlikely to encounter

anyone there. Or he could try

to make it back to his pickup. If

he rested in shade through two

afternoons and walked only in

the early mornings, he might be

able to get that far on less than

one jug of water—but why?

Cam decided to stay put. He

tied his pack as high in a coolabah

as he comfortably could

from the ground, became even

more abstemious in his use of

water, and spent most of the

daylight exploring the area and

watching the minimal wildlife.

Returning to his pack, he retrieved

his bedroll and rolled it

out under the tree. Cam watched

the last sunlight fade from the

sky, then drifted off to sleep.

Rationing his remaining water

left Cam uncomfortably thirsty,

but he had expected that and

tolerated it reasonably well. He

knew of ways he might be able

to obtain more water but didn’t

think he wanted to. For example,

with a little searching and a little

more digging, he could probably

find a few water-holding frogs

and squeeze the water out of

them. If he did that, though, the

frogs would surely not survive to

the next wet season—and at this

point Cam didn’t feel sure his life

was worth as much as a frog’s.

A chance to observe a Giles’s

planigale the next morning rewarded

his decision. The tiny

creature emerged from a deep

fissure in the clay of the lakebed,

still groggy from its overnight

‘mini-hibernation’. Fortunately

for the planigale, it had already

recovered and moved on by the

time the kite returned.

Civility + You


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