Friday, February 29, 2008

rain barrels are good friends

We are experiencing a drought. Mention of this has become so overused it is invisible and often falls on deaf ears. This situation reminds me of times when my girls were small and one of the four was in dire need of attention. Maybe a gentle tug on my shirt would take place or a repetitive song of-"mommy mommy mommy" would kick in. No matter, whatever, or who ever was claiming my focus, eventually, the constant tug or song would find it's way into my field of recognition and suddenly, all eyes and ears radar-ed to the little one. Everything became grossly exaggerated. This is how the issue of our long standing drought worked with me this week.

I know we haven't had much precip.I notice our lakes and ponds are shrinking....their volume is low low low , and I've driven past many a body of water that has tree trunks reaching up for air. Still, something didn't click with me until this week. Hold that thought-

I have been an organic gardener for many years. One of the things I miss the most being divorced, is the view from our back deck over looking a half acre mini farm in our backyard. We lived right smack in the middle of town, and such a landscape is rare. We grew apples, and pears, cherries, pomegranates, kiwi, grapes, strawberries, blueberries. All the usual veggies- tomatoes, cukes, onions, garlic, asparagus, potatoes, cabbage, kale, and so many other wonderful fruits of nature. There are parts of that time that leave me feeling desolately full of despair, but there are a few things that I am glad to have learned and gardening is one of them. I learned to can, dry, and preserve those treasures and spent many an hour meditatively weeding.

When I landed after the divorce storm, I found myself renting a small corner townhouse. I have a tiny front, and a little side and a small back yardette, the space is minute in comparison to my old home.

Somehow, recently,I have come to consider a simple idea. You maybe don't have to have a half acre to grow a plant. Can you believe that? Well, it's true. Once I realized this, I began planting and enjoying nature again, but on a much smaller scale.

I have started most of my summer veggies as seeds, on a sunny windowsill. They are growing and preparing to hit the ground soon and that is when the reality of the drought hit. How will I keep my plants healthy and hydrated?

I decided I might think about a rainbarrel. How quaint an idea. I would only need a pickle barrel size, and my eldest daughter joined me in looking into it. One of the front desk receptionists added a newspaper article to the snowball of energy going into this new idea and I was off and running. I discovered after pricing, that the city was probably the best buy, so one morning on my way to work, I casually drove by the Solid Waste Facility on Peace St. to pick one up.

To my surprise, I found a big sign waiting for me when I pulled into the parking lot.
rainbarrels sold out SOLD OUT
What? What is that? I felt a trickle of panic begin to form inside my stomach ; I revved my little Cabrio engine and rushed to the office.

When I got to work, i hurried to my office and called the hardware store-
SOLD OUT , then I called the local nursery- muy expensive, so I called the city to see when more might be had. Could more be had? Would there ever be more available again in my natural lifetime?

" I can't promise you we'll have enough" said the woman on the phone who no doubt was raised in the depression
" We should get another shipment in at 2 pm or 2: 23 pm today, but I CANE-N'T guarantee you one, ma'am."

I hung up and shifted myself into work mode and stayed steadily busy all day. At 2:20 I realized I might have missed my chance if the order had arrived on time. I dropped everything and called again.
" Yes, we got a shipment in, but it's near about gone. I CANE NOT say there will be any left when you get here."
The panic trickle had grown through the day and this conversation acted as a shot of B6.
" Miss, I can be there in 5 minutes."
" Well, come on but the line is all the way into the street right now."
OMGOMGOMG!! Suddenly, I realized that there was only one thing important in the world.
I needed a rainbarrel and I needed it NOW!!

I grabbed my coat and checkbook and ran out of the building. My baby cabrio got me there lickety split. Two men were at the entrance directing traffic. Most people were leaving, I was the only one in line. I saw a few scattered big green plastic tub giants sitting in the lot congregating with a few other Ginormous green giants. I didn't see any cute picklebarrels.

" You just missed the crowds, lady. Ten minutes ago, we were playing leapfrog with cars and barrels."
" I just want a small one"

I heard a man across the way yell out, "I'll take a big one, gimme 5!!! I'll take 6 if you got 'em!!!

The parking lot attendant removed his hard hat and said, " The small picklers, well, lady, they are all gone."
All gone??? ALL gone?? Something inside me shivered to my own inner self, " For God's sake, woman, get what you can before it's too late!!" and I heard myself say, " I'll take one of what you've got, then, please, mister, please."

He looked at my baby car, glanced across at the green gang of barrels and shook his head. He looked again and squinted, then looked over his glasses at the barrels, then my car, then the barrels again. He said, " Well, we can TRY to get it in that squat of a car, lady."

I paid for my rainbarrel and got in the car. The man removed one of the waiting greengang and started toward me. The barrel was so large, it completely hid the man carrying it. It looked like a barrel with legs.

I had to put the top down to get it in and other than maybe an ant, there was no room for any passenger. The lid took up the entire back seat. I had to fold my arms in and drive toy soldierstyle - But- I got the rainbarrel that would allow me to grow vegetables.woo hoo. How thrilling!!!

On the way back to work, the barrel and I bonded. I wanted it to be comfortable and feel welcome in my house and in my gardenette. By the time I got to work, the plastic had warmed to me, and I felt confident that together, we would successfully collect and water and nurture the plants that I would later kill and consume.

All afternoon, the barrel sat in the passenger seat of my cabrio. with the top up, it was held snugly in that spot.
I introduced it to a few friends that were leaving with me at the end of the day.
"What the heck is that green thing in your car?" one friend asked.
" Why do you have a garbage can in your car?" another inquired.
" Ladies, meet my new best friend,rain barrel."

I went to my daughter's house for dinner and a visit, and found it comforting to have something waiting for me in the car when I was ready to go home.
On the way home, the rain came. It rained in blustery blasts of water. I didn't think it fair to expose the new barrel to the elements cold turkey, plus the weather was viciously pouring and blowing and I needed to take the top down to get it out, so I let it sleepover in the car. I missed out on a great opp for water collection that night. oh, well, what's 60 gallons in the scheme of life?

The next morning breathed in a cold front so I postponed the installation of the barrel yet again.

3 days later, it still sits in my car. Having that big green lug ride around with me is like having a quiet, calm passenger. It never argues, or changes the radio station and it doesn't leave any trash or gum wrappers behind. I don't have to make up any excuses if I don't want to drive somebody somewhere as there is clearly no room for anything bigger than a thimble. There are unexpected advantages to this cargo....and who knew a big old plastic bucket could be such a good listener?

Okay, okay....I'll just go ahead and say it....I kind of like having a rain barrel in my car. To tell you the truth, I think my little cabrio feels pretty good about it too. I think small creatures feel a boost when they carry something big. Like ants and bread crumbs.

I don't want to keep the barrel from reaching it's potential, though. and, I feel i know it well enough to invite it into the yard. I think I'll put it out tomorrow and hope for rain.

1 comment:

Belle said...

You certainly worked hard enough for it, so keep it in your car as long as you like. That said, major storm approaches Tuesday!!!