Do you ever have those times as a mama where you think “If there was a medal for <insert incredible mothering feat>… I would win?!”
I’m sooooo there!
Our well has been super low due to a dry spell. Sometimes, I turn on the faucet and it just sputters… and I have to go down to the basement and turn the pump off for fear it will burn out. It has been two weeks, and there have been no baths, no showers longer than ten seconds, incredible reuses of water (after I steam the green beans, the water is used to water the houseplants when it cools…)… and no laundry. “Wait a minute!” you say. “I thought your washing machine was leaking anyways?” My wonderful husband bought me a new one (boy did we get a good deal! And boy did the delivery guy get a surprise when my giant Old English Sheepdog/Great Pyrenees mix burst out of the room he was shut in and bit him in the butt, causing him to drop the old washer he was carrying down a step and nearly break his toes!).
So the new washer is sitting there… sparkly and new… and dry. And it became dry during the midst of a stomach bug where my young children were losing their dinners on every piece of linen they were within a few feet of. Before you know it, there I was, sitting in a laundromat one Sunday afternoon wearing rubber gloves and scrubbing out chunks of dried, partially-digested food (I know, too much information!) from our sheets, trying my hardest to hide in a far corner so no one would think I was the grossest woman in the world with my pukey linens and stinky cloth diapers.
Can I have a medal? Please? 😉
There is hope, though. In the wooded property next to ours there is an artesian well. It supplied the water to this house before when the parcels were joined (now a group of hunters own that land). But, there is still a line which connects that well to a little pipe jutting out of the ground on our property. The previous owners say it supplied a constant source of gravity fed, pure water but over winter/early spring, the line often becomes clogged with sediment and they would blow it clear with an air compressor. So, when my husband gets over his crazy traveling work schedule he is going to borrow an air compressor and try it… and then hopefully we will be able to water the garden, the animals, and have buckets of glorious water (we may even hook up an old-fashioned hand pump- I would love that!).
This whole ordeal has really caused me to consider how precious water is. I’m the kind of gal who thinks everything really does happen for a reason. I’m trying to soak in (no pun intended) this life lesson, and I’ve been reading about the pressing water issues facing our country. Already, parts of the country are having water wars- and running dry from over-use of ground water and aquifers. One reason is due to farmers trying to grow crops that need more water than the land can support in arid areas- modern technology makes it seem possible via deep well electric pumps irrigation, but in the long run, it is incredibly unsustainable. I was astounded when I learned that in many parts of Africa, people average 1-2 gallons of water per day for all their needs. In the US, we use 70-80 gallons per person per day! Unbelievable. And beyond educating myself about being a better steward (we are definitely going to use rain barrels from now on!), I am also soaking in what I call the lesson of barrenness.
What is the lesson of barrenness? Well when I was in the midst of a pity party about the difficulties of raising three children and a huge garden with very little water (think half mile walks with a Radio Flyer wagon carrying three sloshing buckets up a hilly gravel road from the neighbor’s pond with several slow moving kids!), my husband said “You know, I think it’s good… sometimes it’s too wet, sometimes it’s too dry, and nature goes through these extremes every so often as a way of regulating life… it is all part of the cycle, it is all necessary. Just sink into it and appreciate it.”
I’ve thought about that. He’s right- I can see the evidence in little things- like the way certain plants have receded a bit, and now others are flourishing. I can’t help but think this is great for the soil, the way a certain species would use up certain elements of the soil nutrients to the point of depleting some of them, and now another species who finds the current dry conditions more conducive may come and use up different soil nutrients (and contribute new ones back into the soil as they decompose). Our slug problem had been out of control after two pretty rainy years- they were everywhere, all summer- and now, finally, I can walk through the yard with sandals on and not worry about squishy little bugs getting stuck all over my shoes (or all over my lettuce)!
And as far as “sinking into it and appreciating it”- wow. That was hard at first, but I think I begin to see what he means. As I meditated on the crispy grass and withered garden, I began to notice areas in my own life that were becoming dry and barren. Things I had neglected to replenish and nurture. Areas of my life and relationships that were running on empty (and what steps to take to shore them up). And when the rain clouds came today, although they did not pour down and provide enough water to restore our well, I drank in the water that did come like the thirsty landscape around me. My heart was caught up in rapture with the heavens… pleading with the treasury in the clouds to wring itself out upon me… realizing how beautiful the rain is in a way I never had, hearing the collective soul of nature rejoice as its parched lips were wet.
Of course there have been many moments of pleasure and beauty interspersed within the difficult ones!
We have new kittens…
Happy times together making grass crowns to be king and queen of the meadow…
We’ve identified new herbs on our walks…
I’ve really enjoyed my time in nature lately… something about the dry weather, the urgency in the energy around me as entities purposefully exert themselves to live, even when conditions are difficult- inspires me and seems to magnify the voices of the plants as they commune amongst themselves. I noticed an almost perfect line of plantain along my driveway- and had the thought that it was almost as if plantain is an incredibly social plant, really wanting to be as close to us humans as possible. As I walk around I notice it really doesn’t like to be in densely wild places- it much prefers road edges, lawns, and other places people will be. Walking along the highway one evening, I noticed a similar pattern there. Certain plants prefer to hide away in a meadow or wild area; others really wish to be near the structures we have created (hence my field guides speak of specific plant habitats in terms of roadsides, waste places, meadows, etc). I guess there are introverts and extroverts within the plant world, too! My husband also tells me there are specific plants which like to return a place to wildness, coming in and eroding our structures when they have been in disuse, reclaiming the land- and when they have done their job, they bow in obeisance to the wilder ones who then stake their claim and take over. What an incredible way they work together.
Well, I won’t leave you without reminding you that this is the last few days to order school supplies with the co-op- orders placed by the end of July will be received in mid-August, just in time for lessons. Here’s a few of the lovely new items added to the co-op this month:
I can’t wait to order one of these for our circle time verse! And maybe one of these…
To hold these beautiful seasonal and fairytale themes from Dutch artist Marjan Van Zeyl…
And if you haven’t already heard about it… you’ve got to enter Valarie’s Giveaway over at Jump Into A Book! She is giving away… drumroll please… nineteen Elsa Beskow books to one person! That’s right- if you win, you get all nineteen.
They are as follows:
- The Sun Egg
- The Land of Long Ago
- Princess Sylvie
- Children of the Forest
- The Curious Fish
- Peter in Blueberry Land
- Emily and Daisy
- Pelle’s New Suit
- Around the Year
- Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip
- The Flowers’ Festival
- aunt Green, Brown, and Lavender
- Christopher’s Harvest Time
- Peter’s Old House
- Ollie’s Ski Trip
- Peter and Lotta’s Adventure
- Uncle Blue’s New Boat
- Peter and Lottas Christmas
- The Tale of the Little, Little, Old Woman