by Bec C
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
(The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Colleridge, 1798)
A word of warning to you all – the next time you turn on your tap and clear clean water spurts out, say thank you. It’s one of life’s simplest pleasures which, until it is taken away, we take for granted (on hearing me bemoan the length of showers taken by city visitors, a farming uncle once advised me to do what he does – turn the pump off mid-shower!).
Take it from me, hailing from a household besieged by water woes, reliant purely on the roof as its catchment – water is life. Am I the only new mum to have to walk away from the water delivery man, who declared he couldn’t reach the tanks, with the words ‘please work it out. I’m going to walk away now, before I completely lose it’. But it doesn’t stop there. I suspect we are the only farm which requires the services of the local water truck during times of flood; we are the only neighbours who need to ‘pop next door’ on a weekly basis to fill up our water containers for drinking water even as we don our gumboots to walk through the muddy gates; we are the only home who have required the same water truck to deliver a second load of tank water within 24hrs of having delivered the first, as we failed to notice we had left a tap on the tank open and lost the whole lot down the hill. I think you get the picture.
And then a couple of months ago things took a turn for the worse. One fine day ‘Dougall’ (my husband has bizzarely requested this alias name) decided to get out the whipper snipper in a fit of domestic compliance. Well, off he went – zzzzzzz zzzzzz zzzzzZZZZZZZ around the garden. I was having one of those rare utopian moments, watching my indoor man doing outdoor work, when suddenly, an expletive, followed by deafening silence. And so it began.
Our old galvanised water tank sustained a rock injury the size of a fingernail, thanks to a rock flying out at the speed of light from beneath the whipper snipper. After a quick google for ‘how to fix a hole in a water tank while the water is gushing out’ (honestly, how on earth did we ever cope before the internet?), a temporary fix-up job was carried out thanks to an ingenius manoevre with a champagne cork, and was then of course promptly forgotten.
Summer progressed, as did the rain and the humidity. Our house water continued to have minisucule red worms wiggle their way out of our outlets, and thanks to the towering ironbark trees overhead, we watched it assume the lovely palatable colour of weak tea. White sheets and towels yellowed, and an intricate water DIY filtration system developed inside the kitchen between the tap, a filter jug, the kettle, bottled fridge water, and the neighbours water. Gutters filled up with blossoms, gumnuts, twigs and leaves as fast as we could empty them.
And with the driving rain, we watched our steep driveway slowly sink to the bottom of the hill. Driving up now is akin to being in a parody of a 4WD ad. And if you’re in a 2WD and not into rally driving – well, I think you can forget about visiting. Zane, the local grader man who does the most beautiful driveway gutters (I can’t believe I just said that, but just goes to show how you can change), has had our name on his hit list for 4 months now, but it’s never dry enough for him to get the job done. After all, can’t just push mud around, can you?
So what do you do when you get home from holidays and find the champagne cork ‘plug’ has fallen out of your rusty old watertank and there’s no water left? When there are dirty dishes, dirty clothes, and no way to brush your teeth or clean the baby’s dummy unless you use the water from an old bottle you found under the car seat? When you ring Don, the water delivery man, who dislikes your driveway at the best of times and is now dubious about getting his tanker up the hill?
You do what I did – put the family back in the car, and go on holiday again.
And while you’re there, turning on taps and hoses connected to the mains just ’cause you can, you cross your fingers for once that the sun ain’t shining back at home.