We finally hit it this week. That scorched-earth time of year when I water the bare ground out of pity.
We haven't really experienced a spell this dry and hot in a couple of years. Because of that heat, I've had a lot of time — thanks to the watering I've been doing at my house-sitting gigs — to muse about specific plants, the ins and outs of watering in a garden that is not yours, and — mainly — kinks in hoses.
My mind has started coming up with new lyrics to popular songs to match my mood.
Kinks in the hose, kinks in the hose, lookin' like a fool with the kinks in the hose.
"Kinks in the Hose," I've found, can also fill in for "Tears on My Pillow" and "Skidmarks on My Heart." They all paint the same bleak picture.
I house-sat earlier in the summer for a master gardener with beautiful, pristine gardens and lots of hoses conveniently and thoughtfully located around the yard. Each hose, on her departure, was neatly coiled into its own perfect circle of hose, sitting directly under the spigot or on a hanging spool alongside it.
I also had to praise Jan for putting in place attractive bumpers around her garden beds to keep the hoses moving smoothly and unimpeded. There was no worry of dragging the hose over fragile flowers or knocking over a plant stand.
But as the hoses came out of their perfect circles, they invisibly, imperceptibly developed the bane of my existence. Kinks.
I'd pull a hose to water one bed of flowers. No water. A glance down the hose. A kink.
I pulled out the kink. Watered the bed. Pulled the hose straight — straight! —on toward the birdbath. Lifted the nozzle to fill it.
No water. Another kink.
I backtracked to pull out the kink. Back to the birdbath. Still no water. Another kink, developed on my walk back to the birdbath.
How does this happen?
I consider hand watering the garden a form of therapy. I can get lost in the cool spray falling on lush green leaves. I consider myself a caregiver when the birds gather under the drips.
I prefer the dragging of long, heavy lengths of hose to weight lifting. I love to pull them, double and triple them up, then throw them wide of their mark to come back and catch the plants along the way. I love to adjust the spray, using "stream" to knock the gunk out of a birdbath and then returning to "gentle mist" over the hydrangeas.
But I am not a patient person. And the kinks come back to bedevil me and cancel out the mental-health benefits of gardening every time.
Then there were those neat coils under the spigots. I've always had a hard time being tidy about hoses when I'm done with them. If the hose is in my backyard and I'm the only one who sees it and I may not even see it before I water again, why do I need to coil it up? What a waste of time. Similarly, if the spigot is behind some yews, why not let it fall where it will, mostly hidden?
Well, I enjoyed seeing the neat coils. Even if I was the only one seeing them. There's something about finishing a job, including returning everything to its place, that helps banish laziness and a lackadaisical attitude. That's why even if you're the only one who sees it, it makes a difference, for you. Plus, why go to all the trouble of fussing over flowers if you're going to let the hose detract from the scene?
Still, there were times when I wondered if there would be a spot check, or if I could just leave the hoses lengthened out, the easier for watering the next time.
I also cursed the kinks. For they would come back in the curling, causing the hose to curl the wrong way and change direction, making me think that Jan was some kind of a snake charmer for getting the hoses back into a perfect circle with no kinks showing.
The hoses would not tame themselves for me. Did I create the kinks myself? Why was I cursed with them?
When I left Jan's, I moved on to stiffer challenges. Beds that were not thoughtfully bumpered. Patios with hammock stands and chair legs and brick edges to snare me and rudely, abruptly halt my progress when I was marching triumphantly for the apple trees. Mistakes made when I got too impatient with a noncompliant hose and blindly and ferociously pulled it, only to find that it was knocking the heads off impatiens, felling a chair, or, horror of horrors, running straight through a patch of cactus. If you've never run your hand through the fine needles of cactus clinging to the smoothness of a hose, transferring them to the former smoothness of your hand, words will not be able to convey the pain, nor the meticulous removal required, to you.
When I mentioned the problem of kinks to readers of my e-newsletter, Paula Serrien of Bennington responded with a great idea that I hope no one steals, patents and makes a great deal of money on — without cutting us in:
"This may sound silly," Paula said, "but if there was a design for a swinging bracket on a post (or side of house, etc.), 8 to 10 feet high, that a hose ran through, your hose would be ABOVE your head, with complete rotation available. Think of an old-fashioned car wash where you get out and wash your own vehicle! You are able to completely walk around your car and spray quite an area, and no hassle of dragging hose!"
I don't consider that silly. I consider that earth-shatteringly brilliant.
Kinks in the hose, kinks in the hose. Gardening goes from providing therapy to requiring it when you have kinks in the hose.