Archive for February, 2015


Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Yesterday I moved three posts in my garden. I set them in the ground last year to prop up raspberry vines, but the vines struggled under too much direct sunlight. There’s a shadier corner inside my fence, so yesterday I moved the berry posts over there.

It’s hard work setting a post, mostly in digging the hole. There’s a clapper-mouthed tool with two handles, so you can grab a chunk of earth and lift it out – then drop the tool back into the hole and grab another mouthful of dirt deeper down. There’s something about the physics of it – holding my arms out in front; pushing, squeezing, pulling up the earth – that exhausts me almost immediately. I test that feeling: to a point, right through the ache, summoning all my strength will move things just a little more – and then it won’t. All the force I can possibly muster fails, and my arms give up.

I’m trying to build a relationship with these few acres. I have a desire (most of us have forgotten) to be part of the ground I walk on; to think, “Here, I will grow this. Here, I will die.”

There are several acres, and I am just one man. If I chose to put in fifty posts, it would be easier. I would imagine where to put them and how they should look, then pay someone to do the job.

But I’m not here to look at the garden, really. Not that I don’t – I do a lot of staring at plants. It’s just that enjoyment isn’t my deep purpose for being here.

I’m lucky. I get real satisfaction from standing a post in the ground with my own hands; with getting dirt on my pants. And the ground changes. The land becomes more of me; of what I am. And it’s hard work. It strains me. If I am fortunate, I will be beneath my own trees on the day it strains me and I die.


Monday, February 9th, 2015

I live on a few acres in the country. Our water comes from our well. As long as I remember, water came from household faucets. I didn’t think a lot about what the faucets were attached to. Now, I think about flow-meters and water softeners and holding tanks. Every other day or so, I think about drought.

Our well delivers four gallons each minute. I’ve been a lucky man and I have a nice house, and most of my money is tied up in it. If the well stops delivering, my house will be worthless (and I’ll be pumping enough to bathe in from a water truck).

Wells are going dry. The climate change debate has been locally mooted because the rain no longer falls. You can argue your heads off, but we’ve got action on the ground. What do you do when you’re your own water supply?

Well, you can try drilling deeper. Or drill a second well. If you can get a permit. One of the things about drought is, governments decide you can’t drill any more; something about conservation. So then, maybe, there’s the pond. Even in drought years a foot or so of water will fall. Our land miraculously has the natural contours to capture many thousands of gallons in a holding pond.

If it comes to it, the pond should fill with enough rain in winter to hold us through the months the well goes dry. More on this later…