Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 10-22-12
The poet Longfellow once quipped, “Into every life some rain must fall.” However, in our part of the world, it just doesn’t happen often enough to suit us. Even with all the natural resources in Texas, water is perhaps our most precious commodity. The possibility of rain is always a popular topic of conversation, as is the ubiquitous question, “How much rain did y’all get?” Since moving to the arid Texas Hill Country over 15 years ago, it seems that no one ever receives just the right amount of water.
Not only are there not many well timed rains, much of the soil in our county doesn’t hold water. We had several dry ponds on the property where we used to live. And the only time they were full was the week or so after a flood. Afterwards, all that precious moisture would percolate through the rocky soil into the shallow water table. There it would stay just long enough for the cedars and mesquite trees to soak it up.
There is not much underground water here to be found at any depth. On our farm, we had a slow flowing well that only produced three or four gallons an hour. It was pumped into a huge concrete cistern behind the house that supplied our personal needs and one water trough. The other well, equally shallow and slow-flowing was located halfway back of the 160 acres and was pumped by an old squeaky windmill. Thankfully, there was always plenty of wind, and it filled troughs for our cows and goats and the dozens of deer that passed through on their daily wanderings.
But since water was such a valued commodity, one of our worst fears was running out of it. The cardinal sin was to leave the water hose running and drain the cistern — which happened during our time there, more than once. And Murphy’s Law being what it is, the incident would always occur at an inopportune time. On one memorable occasion, I had come back in the house one warm Saturday evening after putting up the chickens, bottling the calves and feeding the dogs. I was hot and tired and still had to finish the kitchen, bathe my three young children and get them ready for bed. After I finished, I was just too exhausted to get in the shower. I washed my face and hands and was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
When I awoke the next morning, I made a terrible discovery. Although no one confessed, someone had left the water on all night. Not only were we out of water, there was the distinct possibility that the pump would be burned out. We’d have to wait for Jeff, our local well repairman, to make room on his crowded schedule to fix it before we could begin to replenish our supply.
It was about 6:30 and I needed to start getting ready for church. In addition to being a stay at home mother and homeschooling our children, I taught an adult Sunday school class along with my husband. So skipping church wasn’t an option. However, neither was going without a bath. The house was still quiet, and the usual Sunday morning flurry of activity had not yet begun. I made a cup of coffee and sat on the back porch to ponder my dilemma. Then I had a flash of brilliance — the kids’ blue plastic swimming pool was full of water. Probably why the hose had been left one … It would serve as a suitable bathtub.
I grabbed a towel, soap and some shampoo. I had to skim a handful of dead grasshoppers and moths off the surface, but otherwise the water seemed fairly clean. I slipped out of my nightie and into the tepid water, knowing the chances of a being spotted by a passing vehicle were almost nil at that hour. I bathed and rinsed as best I could and enjoyed the tranquil moment of solitude. At that point in my childrearing career, those quiet moments were rare. I really enjoyed my “al fresco” bath at sunrise. I briefly considered making it a habit. ❖