By Anita Walsh
January 23, 2021 was a Saturday, and the Corrales Post Office would be closing at 1 o’clock. It crossed my mind, after a Zoom yoga class, and having made our daily juice, that the two garden hoses I ordered could possibly be arriving.
In my sleep clothes, I grabbed the pants I wear to the store; the ones that have my license in the pocket, and threw them in the front seat, along with the bag that had my cloth mask and hand sanitizing sheets. I zipped over to the Post Office, and opened the P.O. Box, where a yellow pick-up card was nestled. I went around the corner, padding along in my green velour jimmies and went on to the counter. The pleasant clerk came back with a box for me. It looked a little small, and it felt a little light, so I got a little panicky that maybe I ordered the wrong thing.
I did get the wrong thing: I got hoses that were half-inch diameter instead of three-quarter-inch diameter. My plants had suffered. I couldn’t water and enjoy being outside because of those old leaky hoses. Now I had something that worked, even though it wasn’t what I expected. I spent most of the day delivering water to everything languishing in our drought-prone season. It’s not that they had gotten no water at all, but after getting squirted in the face, soaked at the sleeve, shoe and pant leg, I certainly had waited longer than usual to offer relief to the plants.
The next time I used these hoses, I already knew how light they were, how very little you have to turn the faucet on to get great pressure, and of course how nice it is not to get squirted by straight-up-in-the-air leaks, and to watch the wasteful soak-the-ground leaks, too. The half-inch, instead of the three-quarter-inch diameter, drinking water safe hose was a lucky accident. They are light and easy to pull around, allow for decent pressure for a much longer time than the wider hoses, use less water and deliver a purely delightful watering experience.
For anyone interested, I would highly recommend this smaller diameter hose. Your back will thank you for it. It’s best to disconnect the hose from the faucet on freezing nights. The connection froze one night and the force of it snapped the washer, so where there had never been gushing and leaking, there was. I’ve also learned to empty the ceramic birdbath.
The following week the garden lay under the snow. We were waking up, and Steve recalled the last Monday when he mowed the whole garden; all the thyme, St John’s Wort, spearmint, red clover, marjoram and grass around the fruit trees, cottonwood and catalpa and all the leaves that fell where things grow were mulched in. The gullies for irrigation got shorn. Another Saturday he raked the dry garden around the apricot, which has the big yuccas, and we pulled the leaves out from their arms with the handle end of the rake. He called me a “garden monster” as a high compliment for helping.
The ragged edges of the irrigation gullies got weed-wacked in the midst of a rather intense wind storm. I convinced Steve to mow the vinca and he has had me worried about it ever since. I noticed one lovely flower on the old growth, and I see now what we will be missing. As I looked around the area that day, leaves tucked in just about everywhere, I knew I’d be raking again, and so it was; heaving the splitting and broken garbage bags over the side of the garbage can, and returning the hand cart that helped me move them to the shed. Almost every week, all winter long, we filled the garbage can with leaves and we are still at it.
We spent an hour and a half trying to get a loose limb off of another limb and had to give-up. Steve was on a very tall ladder, the wind was blowing, and the limb wouldn’t budge. It’s rare to see him give up on a thing, but it had stalled me from going to the store in favor of holding the ladder, so when the futility of it became apparent, he gave up, and let me go.
We gave a “bluebird day” to our dog and went on a hike instead of gardening. Traditionally she gets the best day of the week for her long walk. The next day, was the day when we heard from the Conservancy District that there will be little water for irrigation, and a short season as well, and it kinda dashed all hopes of having stamina for outdoors; along with the grey-cold, windy weather that arrived with the news.
In pasting together the time, and what has been done, I’d say the garden, or the general outdoors that we occupy, has gotten significant attention. There was one day when I pulled out the top layer of compost that did not degrade, and filled the garbage with dried pineapple tops, corn cobs, coffee filters and twigs. I am still working on it, but with a stick, digging around hoping to find the stone to my old ring and finally, that precious layer of crumbly, practically perfect ‘black gold’ compost.
All the trips to the house for water, garbage bags, gloves and the excursions to the shed for rake, different rake, shovel; added up to more footsteps than a two-hour hike. Again, I put in some time watering and digging in the compost, and way surpassed days that were spent on errands. Even walking around the city blocks size of Albertsons’ for groceries has no such effect as slight garden tasks attended.
Last fall, we bought a multi-branched cluster of twigs identified as a desert willow and an expensive stick from Osuna Nursery in January, identified as a pecan tree. I have been watching it and the buds along its 31/2-foot stature look alive. When they will stretch to become branches is anybody’s guess.
Making things nice is a good activity for your spirit. I’d walked down the back door path, where straight ahead sits a white plaster detail object which Steve made as part of a cast for a sculpture. I’ve always loved it, and the morning sun streams down the path to highlight it. I thought then of how we make the world better by adding beauty to it.
The daily round of things; filling birdbaths, keeps me in touch with changes in the rosemary bush showing its blue flowers at the beginning of March, and in December the flowering arugula that I didn’t harvest in the fall.
We are still in competition for space in the garbage can to put in the results of our individual projects before the can gets full. Last week we both worked on garbage day, as soon as the can got empty and by evening it was full. We had a week to go before the garbage man roared back down our road. Steve cleaned two coreopteris bushes (blue mist ) and saved one from further rot at the base. I cleaned the Mexican feather grass and broke 11,000 steps for two days straight.
As I was looking out the window, a crow swooped gracefully from a high tree in a neighbor’s yard, down to a lower branch just above the birdbath in the garden. The birds always tell you when to fill the water; the little birds by the house and the crows in the big garden.
In spring and summer, we are overrun with critters; the snake falling from the vine, the cat giving birth behind a tangle of branches, and the ever-expanding toad family. I look forward to seeing Mr. Toad sitting in the plant tray we fill with water every morning; he surely seems to enjoy it, too.
I feel so lucky to be here and have a hand in making a place to see, to share with the birds, bees, lizards, tree frogs, my partner and more. Gazing at it, or working in it, the garden is the place to be, any time of year.