When we were growing up we lived in a beautiful house with TO DIE FOR landscaping. Seriously never appreciated that stuff still I started moving dirt myself, shout out to Rick & Rob with that terraced retaining wall vibe and peony shrubs and my goodness it was good…
The house had three main ‘areas’ of landscaping with flowers and pots and shrubs and all the things.
We had “front” “side” and “back.”
Rob didn’t mess around. I tell people all the time my parents love us all equally and unconditionally- supporting our wildest and weirdest ideas and developed us all into functioning adults who are polite and hard working- but they were pretty strict parents. #goals
So every single morning of summer vacation, no matter what time you got your ass out of bed there was a note on the kitchen counter. It read:
We had to water. Everyday. You NEVER wanted the back. What a pain in the ass. You had to drag hoses up and down these stone steps and there was always this snake sunning itself on the stones and the back had the most stuff and took the longest.
The front sucked too because you had to go in the wood chips. And let’s face it- when you’re 15 years old you don’t really ‘put on shoes’ to go outside, so you barefoot pad through the wood chips and get the damn hose and start at one end and work your way over. The front also sucked because there was this ONE SECTION the hose wouldn’t reach. Mom always said to ‘fill the watering can and walk over there’ yeah right. If you BLASTED THE HOSE on like ‘fighting fire’ mode and bounced the water OFF THE GARAGE WINDOW it would hit that shrub. Legends only over here folks.
You wanted the side. My god did you want the side. #1- no chance of seeing neighbors or wildlife. #2- smallest and easiest to water. You could literally stand on the porch and hit everything with that hose. You could eat your bagel slathered in peanut butter and still hear Disney channel from the living room if you left the door open.
The time always changed too. If Rob was watching us in the window you needed a LOT MORE TIME because ‘up to mom’s standards’ meant she would knock on the window and crack it open and say “um that one needs more than just a trickle, you need to hold the hose over that pot for like a full 60 seconds.”
So back to that damn note on the damn scratch paper. The moment our eyes opened we would start negotiating with one another.
“Egan if you switch the side with me I’ll let you have the clicker”
“Kalin - if you do my watering today I’ll do yours tomorrow.”
“I’ll pay you $5 to do my watering all week.”
My mom would appear, holding a laundry basket, “did you guys do your watering yet?”
Cue a chorus of bullshit:
“I have swim practice I cannot water today.”
“Egan spit in my face last night she should water everyones section today.”
“The snake is out there.”
We all moaned and groaned and we eventually did it. But Rob also had a very strong strategy - if you did something bad the day before - you paid for it on the watering scratch pad the next morning.
One day when I was being a particularly difficult and moody and overall ungrateful brat - I woke up to see the note:
K- front, side, back.
I’m also forgetting how if you dared go out and speak a word to your siblings while they were watering you were always- no questions asked- going to be sprayed with the house.
“Egan dad is on the phone for y——-”(sprays hose in your face)
I thought about all of this as I put in the garden this week. Hands + knees, Emma & I hammering in landscape fabric. I thought of it as I potted up a few plants last week, lovingly watering all the plants + seeds + starts with such care.
I hated watering. We all did. But some 16 years later, there is nothing that fills my cup more than heading out there in the morning.
I slip on a pair of flip flops and the dogs trot along side me. Coffee mug in hand, I stop first at the spiggot and turn on the water. Out the gate, around the corner, I grab the hose and head to the garden, carefully placing the sprinkler exactly where I need it for the first 30 minutes.
The dogs sniff around in the brush just outside the mowed area.
Setting an alarm on my phone to alert me to move the sprinkler in 30 minutes I walk back in the gate, towards my pots, filling the watering can at my next stop.
There’s a lot more to water at the farm. The tiny house pots / baskets, the pots / baskets outside the shed, outside the studio, but those are delegated. They are my ‘E and O’ sections - as much as I wish it was my siblings handling it- its our team, who knows - when you’re left with a bucket of flower water - dump it on a plant that needs it. :)
I hated watering growing up - but now, its my favorite part of my day. A lesson to us all; who we once were is not who we will be a decade or two later- and that’s the really fun part of life.