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Love Notes

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The garden hose is a scourge of summer

When we moved to the Selle Lovestead with its vast, park-like lawn two years ago, my brother visited one day, looked over the yard and laid out a grand plan for me.

“Get a computerized sprinkler system,” he suggested. “You can program when you want the lawn watered. The watering will be distributed evenly. And, you can save lots of time and water.”

That sounded pretty logical but a bit unrealistic to my country-hick mind. Maybe it was because I knew he could speak so generously of buried sprinkler lines and push-button watering because he had gotten a cut-rate deal when his own system was installed at his Montana farm.

Moreover, Bill and I had already had outlined plenty of urgent needs for spending our money at our new Lovestead: i.e., replacing fencing built for goats with fencing built for horses, purchasing essential farm and forestry equipment, taking care of various glitches around the place, etc.

The computerized sprinkler system seemed frivolous at the time, even though my brother’s concept was loaded with pluses that could certainly make our lives a lot easier during the so-called “lazy, hazy days of summer.” Anyone who’s lived in North Idaho for any period of time, though, can’t even grasp the concept of living life a lot easier.

Besides, as a native North Idahoan used to going one step forward and 15 miles backward, I have grown accustomed to the kinky adventures associated with dragging miles and miles of unruly hose across my lawn. Summers would not be the same if I didn’t get to enjoy my daily hose experiences.

Besides, during decades of yard work, I’ve found that a garden hose provides a cheap, holistic substitute for an effective home fitness gym. Dragging any 75-100-ft section of heavy hose can do wonders for one’s body by toning up those arms, shoulders, back and leg muscles while walking, bending over, pulling, yanking, frequent retracing of steps, stomping, and even occasionally throwing hands into the air.

Add to that valuable anger management exercises gleaned from dealing with head-strong hoses bent on finding places to get hung up on such as tree roots, fence corners, deck openings and even in wide open fields where nary an obstruction exists to the naked human eye.

The hose knows, though, and the hose knows the best time to sabotage the peace and serenity of providing needed moisture to Mother Nature’s summer wonders. I’ve also noticed that strategic hose hook-ups always seem to occur when I’m about 10 feet from said watering site and at least 90 feet from said faucet.

Typically, I’ll be going about my business on sunny summer mornings with hose draped over my shoulder, nozzle in hand, mind totally focused on the upcoming watering session on my geranium-marigold circle just ahead. Two OCSD (obsessive-compulsive, sheep-deprived) Border Collies, who love to aggressively herd and chomp at the nozzle spray, run eagerly alongside me.

Suddenly, my whole body lurches backward, threatening whiplash and yet another aggravation to an old lower back injury. The hose has struck again, getting itself stuck. In the front-yard geranium-watering routine, the point of obstruction is always the hose storage opening on the deck, which offers a myriad of ways to get bound up.

With all the watering experience under my belt, I should be seasoned enough to calmly, quietly put the dang thing down, walk back and release the devious monster from its obstruction, but in my idealistic mind there’s always hope with a hose, often hope dashed. Regardless of countless past failures, I still give each new situation the old college try by yanking, cussing, yanking and cussing.

I don’t think a team of oxen would cuss out loud, but the image of their beast-of-burden stance while urging old-time farm equipment across a field is reminiscent of the front yard scene of me and my incorrigible hose. All this isometric effort on my part goes for naught. The strong-willed hose stays put, so I cuss some more and stomp back to the scene to untangle the mess.

The hose also knows how to kink up on command. That command seems to be rather cryptic but timed perfectly for the moment the nozzle opens to spray those posies. Drip. Drip. No spray. I turn around looking for the kink. Of course, I can’t see it. I have two choices: continue pulling and walk to the very end of the hose, forming enough tension to undo the kink or walk back to wherever the kink happens to be. Just think of the cardiovascular advantages to either choice!

This summer, an extra Border Collie has added a new wrinkle to my watering challenges. Besides satisfying the dogs’ compulsion to chase and chomp at something, my network of watering links has turned into a giant chew toy for Kea, the pup. To heck with shoes, paper and rocking chair legs! Nothing like a piece of tough rubber for giving those baby teeth some good exercise.

Conversely, nothing like a good puppy-chewed hole to render a hose unsprayable. That’s where Bill, the maintenance man, comes in. He’s assembled a large supply of those yellow plastic hose fixers, and he’s used them several times already this year.

So, to heck with the computerized sprinkler system. Bring on the hoses. I actually feel sorry for my brother in Montana. He has to fill up all that time he could spend watering his lawn with stuff like fishing, hunting or taking drives to the back country. And, look at the valuable exercise he’s missing and the fun scenes his neighbors don’t get to watch or hear.

For the time being, I’ll remain perfectly content to continue the blissful daily routine of watering my lawn and garden with our ever-entertaining, patched up, kinky hose network and its Border Collie assistants.

Unless I win the lottery, that is!

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Author info

Marianne Love Marianne Love is a freelance writer and former English teacher who enjoys telling the stories of her community. She has authored several books, the latest of which is "Lessons With Love."

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