Thinking about Water

in HiveGarden3 months ago

When we first saw our house, and Jamie suggested it had potential, I cried. I did not want to move inland, away from the ocean I loved. It was the end of summer and the land was parched. Here was our future home, plonked unceremoniously in a bare block of land, with five small trees lining the driveway.

The real estate sign showed a beautiful lily pond with the declaration 'Your Own Piece of Paradise'. When I questioned the position of the dam across the fence, the real estate agent smiled wryly and said that yes, that was probably a bit of a stretch. Clearly, there wasn't much else to sell it. Yet fifteen years later, here we are, facing another Big Dry.


A gang gang having a drink. We always make sure there is water for birds.

I grew up in a time of extended drought. In the early '80s, the result of lack of rainfall brought dust storms and severe bushfires with many deaths. I was 11 and remember the burning gum leaves falling, and days upon days of heat where we all scrambled to the sea for relief. Just before I moved to England in 2003, we'd had years of dry weather, resulting in water restrictions. Showers had to be less than four minutes, you weren't allowed to wash your car or water your garden, and people would spy on you if you did. People would put signs out the front to say they were watering with grey water to signify they weren't 'wallys' or avoid criminal investigation. In many ways it was traumatising. I recall seeing huge fat raindrops in England and thinking they were nothing short of miraculous because I so rarely saw rain like that.

In 2010 and 2011, the arrival of El Nina saw the rain return. It was timely for the gum trees we planted, whose roots sort the wet clay twelve metres down. Once their roots are down, we say, they're more likely to survive. The more trees planted, the more shade. I owe the tall trees on our property to El Nina's rains.


Positioning a bird bath

The thing is, if you've been raised in drought, there's always that haunting knowledge that it is coming again. We are lucky enough to be on town water, but we suspect there will be restrictions soon enough as the reservoirs shrink. We fill bird baths constantly for the birds that come in desperate for a drink in the blinding heat of summer. We think about whether we can afford a grey water system, or make our own. I dread the return of the days where we let our shower water run into buckets and lug them to the garden to keep it alive.

Rain is not an inconvenience in my part of the world. Up north, they have terrible floods, but we don't live in the tropics. Every time it rains, we are grateful here.


Ollas pots being filled with water - the roots of plants cling to the sides of the wet terracotta which drip feds them

There's not much we can do about the weather patterns and climate change. All we can do is constantly assess our systems - mulching, rain water collection, swales, shade, soil nutrients, wicking beds - and pray to the gods and goddess of the water, who may or not bless us with their presence.

This piece was in response to the #creativegarden prompt this week, with the theme 'Water'. You can choose creative non fiction (like this piece) or a wild science fiction, a time travelling adventure, a poem or anything else creative! They come out every Sunday, so do join the fun!

With Love,

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 3 months ago  

When we arrived in Australia (2008) there had been drought and water restrictions for a white in SA. The following year brought the black Saturday bushfires to Victoria. As you can imagine, this was something unimaginable for the UK and a steep learning curve for us (although we do have water restrictions in the UK too, but they seem petty when compared to the reasons for them here).

This year, while we've had an early start to summer, we've just had a huge storm, with flood level rains. Usually this heads your way after, but I think it's gone to NSW instead, this time. I hope you get something, though.

 3 months ago (edited) 

No it has! I scheduled this post a few days ago. Been full on raining all day!!!!

Yeah i imagine it was quite the adjustment. Jamie arrived the year of Black Saturday too. We were living in the bus. It was so darn hot and we were in yhe hammock under trees drinking beers qnd crunching ice from the esky. The next day the papers confirmed what we knew was going to happen... Fire, somewhere!

 3 months ago  

Nice! I hope you don't get the tune through the big like we did, though. It was waking us up continually throughout Monday night to Tuesday morning. Everyone across Adelaide and even in rural SA were saying it was directly over them, the storm was that big! It was crazy loud.

Black Saturday was horrific. We had people back home checking up on us asking if we were okay. 😅 Had to explain that it was equivalent to another country away from us.

 3 months ago  

Ha yes we had the same. It was a bit of a freak one really as well.

Ash Wednesday was the other one, when I was in grade 6. We were on the coast with the burning leaves falling round us. Third day of 40 degrees and Dad had picked us up from school to go for a swim down at torquay. I might write about it, but since I've been here so long I prob have already 😂

 3 months ago  

I heard about Ash Wednesday when we first arrived from so many older people who remember it vividly even to this day. Our old friend lost an old school friend in them.

 3 months ago  

The worst I've experienced were the Sampson Flat ones a few years back. We came out of the shopping centre to see a mushroom cloud in the foothills. It reached our neighbouring suburb and we had an eerie orange sky for a couple of days, like permanent dusk. There was a similar haze when they had fires on the Eyre Peninsula as well, but not as bad with it being further from us.

 3 months ago  

It is super unsettling when the smoke comes over. Very apocalyptic.

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 3 months ago  

Oh good luck with the incoming dry patch... we weren't here for the last one, and I'm worried that fires are going to be a big thing again...

It's so lovely seeing wild bird just perch around and not afraid of human. It's such a rare sight for me. We also have prolonged drought and climate change is starting to affect us too. Maybe just like you said, collecting rain water will be a thing in the future again.

It's so dry where I am, completely different climate than what I grew up in, where water was in abundance. But it sure makes me appreciate it more now. Hope you do get some rain xxxx

The drought does sound dreadful from this description and sure do know how every use of water might be managed or the feeling of guilt when using a lot.

It is lovely you are making plans for the future as climate change is almost unpredictable these days.

 3 months ago  

What you describe sounds just like here although we actually have quite high rainfall
It just happens all at once and runs off instead of soaking in

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Itu adalah burung yang setia dan menarik perhatian siapapun,, luar biasa man

You are alway filling the bird baths with water. They must be lucky to have you around. The drought sounds so dreadful but is is good thing you are planning and preparing for the next climate

 3 months ago  

Funnily enough, we have been hit by rain the last few days!

Where would we all be without water, yet we pollute it like there will always be a never-ending supply? I feel that folks who live in an arid zone like yourself have a greater appreciation for this life-giving compound. Here in Upstate NY, we get lots of precipitation and the lack of fresh water is not an issue, SO FAR. Even though fresh water is abundant I still treat it as we all should do, like the natural treasure it is.

 3 months ago  

How is the weather in England? Is the cold better than the heat in your area?

 3 months ago  

We know how precious water is!
When I saw the prompt 'water', I was also reminded of the time we struggled for water this summer.
I annoys me to no end to see people washing their cars and waste hundreds of liters of good water.
We have no laws here to restrict us from using water for certain purposes. We just save rain water and water we wash our food stuff in .
I so relate to the emotions expressed here.
May you have more rains there and sending good wishes your way.
Let's conserve water.