Never wrote a short story before.

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There’s an ordonnance that says you can’t water your yard by machine unless it’s between three and five in the morning. And then only on every second day. On Mondays nobody gets to water anything. No matter how you do it.

Watering by hand, I get it. Out in the backyard after supper, get out the hose and ‘giver  a few sprinkles. A quick wander round the perimeter, maybe poke under the bushes with the water and stuff while we’re at it. See how things are doin’.

It’s a far cry from having a hole drilled into your house then right back out again so it can be connected to a flexible pipe that has a watering machine on the end. Instead you’re a little organic mandelbrot on the front lawn spreading water where it’s needed and making your neighbourhood green and look good on behalf of the city and real estate prices. That’s value.

Here’s the deal though, you can go to any store you want and buy  whatever attachment suits your fancy and attach it to the end of that flexible hose. Hell, you can even go digital if you want. Lot’s of these attachements make it so you don’t even have to be there. Reels and crawlers, auto-oscillating three armed sprayers, turbo pattern masters on polymer sleds. There are heavy duty brass pulsators and orbital sun-mate gear driven heads. You can bury the pipe in the ground and get a four pack of nineteen to thirty-two foot spray heads that will give you forty to three-hundred and sixty degrees of coverage.

You can go out every once and a while and see how it’s doing, maybe move it around if you want. See if the ground is squishy. Sure sign of water. You don’t really need to know what you’re doing because whatever it is you’re watching or paying attention to between April and September is bound to be interupted every couple of minutes to tell you how it should turn out. You might even enjoy getting up Sunday morning to watch a show about how to best organize your yard requirements.

The point is – you can turn that thing on and leave it. You can go to bed, go inside and watch TV, it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing. It’s pretty much foolproof with just enough necessity to make you think you’re on top of something important and rewarding. Even better if you can find an app that runs the whole show. (Now that’s something worth sharing).

The problem is – the city doesn’t want that. Not really. Well they do but they really don’t. They want their communities to look good but they’re only ‘gonna go so far.

Unrestricted people pouring water onto their yard at thousands of gallons a minute without any thought. A large chunk of it seeping off the lot and into the storm sewers along with the water from people who insist on washing their cars and hosing down their driveways and sidewalk in a ritual of sanitation. It really doesn’t look good. Not at all. So yes, if it’s dark, and between three and five on alternate mornings we’re okay. Not ‘gonna really look.

And it works  ..mostly ..sort of.

The kind of properties you want watered get watered. The rest ..well let’s just say it’s not going to be brought up in conversation. The grass is undoubtably a little drier and ragged. A little thin ..mostly in lots of places in most yards. A little browned and pretty brittle, even the green stuff. Well maybe not brown actually, more like straw coloured if it were a little more golden. As it is, it’s a too tiny and bleached to really tell. Not much green in there though. That’s for certain.

But all that’s beside the point.

I was thinking about a completely different world. One where there’s this business with older men. It’s ‘kinda cool.

Most people don’t have the time to figure out the yard watering garden thing. Some people are really into it but they usually fence their properties off and out of sight so they don’t have to deal with the visual riff raff. You know, the people whose idea of a backyard resembles the space around the houses on that flat marshy stretch at the bottom of the hill out there by the something or other sideroad.

Anyway. Not everyone is buyin’ five thousand dollar charbeques and egg-smokers to put next to the outdoor couch and big screen TV. Alot of people are just trying to keep up a little scrabbled lot like you by the side of the highway.

The one where you slow down at the end of the big thick grey wire anchoring the guardrail posts to the ground and cross a gravel covered culvert to get into. There’s likely a slightly circular bare spot somewhere because they probably have a dog.

Mostly we’ve managed to get these people up off the ground once they’re in town. Limiting the amount of space these people can affect in the outside world, we’re getting pretty good at it because once they start… little things pile up. Lumber, tarps, bits of leftover machinery and the inevitable pile of dirt. We gotta’ watch it because it’s catching like a virus and you don’t want it spreading in the neighbourhood.

Worst of all it could go Eco. Ton’s of painted bark and some scraggly bushes that look an awfully lot like the ones on the edge of the vacant lot you passed on the way home. No bayberry groomed hedges that’s for sure.

Anyway, the majority of the residents seem to get it right. A tree, a little shade, a sunny spot and a small place that they can tend grass and flowers and plants.

I heard a  comment the other night that I’d never heard before. An idea that most people no longer have a place to direct their nurturing, care and compassion. They may have a small animal or a few house plants, but otherwise this little patch of land is it. It’s the limited place where their soul pours out into the world and world pours back in.

But what I was thinking about was this world of older men. It would be shady. It’d have to be. And the shade would come from trees. Big ones. Lot’s of them. Trees wouldn’t be these spindly ornamental things we put in and pull out for decoration. They would be cultivated and proper residents of the neighbourhood. They would comprise the landscape that the buildings are mingled into.

Early in the morning and later in the evening, these men would come out and water their lawns and flowerbeds by hand. Out there for hours and hours, silent and content in knowing that they were part of ‘taking care’ as the sun climbs into the sky. Standing out on shaded lawns or sitting on the stoop with life swaying about them in the breeze during the best part of the day.

The part of the day where for most of their life they had always been somewhere else. Doing something else and trying hard to figure something out for somebody else. Now they can sway with the water in the cool of the morning and begin to understand what it’s like to paint or dance. Life coursing like the water through their hand to where it’s needed most. There is so much time to relax, to observe, to be calm.

They take on watering their neighbours’ yard. Not because it’s a career choice but because it’s calming. We discover it’s good to have these men in our midst. And after a time they begin to dispense wisdom along with the water. Easy words like ‘how’s it going?’ or ‘good to see you’. Simple things or maybe just a tip of the hat.

Sometimes their advice is more selective along the lines of ‘I don’t think any amount of watering is ‘gonna bring that back’. They know because they’ve seen it and they’d like you to know while you still have time.

It doesn’t need to be much more than that. Just a little shove that gets you away from the dock before you slip your paddle into the water. A growing feeling for life and change. Slow, gentle, constant and always in motion. A way they can adapt to a world where they aren’t the main feature. And finally, their souls can learn how to blend in.

 

 

(for pat landon)

 

 

 

One thought on “Never wrote a short story before.

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