Lately I've been seeing the back garden as being an earthy metaphor for myself.
It takes a lot of hard work to keep it going but I haven't given up yet.
It was planted by the previous owners with good intentions and as a way of making the most of a smallish patch of green in a largely crowded and built in suburb. For the past year all of my efforts have gone into keeping it watered without having to turn on the mains tap to do so.
Y'see, in our South Australian house, we had an intricate water-saving dripper system that was planted under the grass and only operated for an hour at midnight. We also had two underground rain water tanks installed that could hold 10,000 litres. It was only when they were empty that the magic that is plumbing automatically switched the house over to mainswater; old copper pipes rumbling and squeaking indignantly against the outside wall as they did so.
Here in Melbourne the size of our property is less than one-third of what it was in Adelaide and our single water tank is attached to our modest workshop. This little plastic green fella holds only 850 litres or just enough to fill up the green watering can and sprinkle non-soapy sustenance on our three infant citrus trees, two herb pots and four ailing rosemary bushes.
Everything I can gather via greywater is saved for the lawn, four pencil pines, four manchurian pear trees, hedging provided by a fusion of lavender bushes and avunculus flowers and a determined group of flax plants.
So, every morning the shower base (or the bath, in our case) gets the plug put in and afterwards I load up three buckets worth with the aid of a plastic jug and then carry them through the house (after I've got dressed, of course, no need to frighten the neighbours smoking on their balconies), hoik the heavy buckets down the hall, through the loungeroom, into the kitchen, past the pergola and outside to fling the precious contents onto selected spots in the garden. Back and forth, back and forth.
When Love Chunks or Sapphire are in the bathroom, I'll call out in my old-crone voice, "Make sure you put the plug in and save the water for me!"
I also direct the nozzle from the washing machine into the laundry trough and stand there during the emptying and rinse cycles to fill up bucket after bucket of sudsy water. It reminds me of what it must have been like for my grandmother and newly-married mother to have a Wringer washing machine grinding away and having to feed individual items of clothing through the rollers in order to squeeze the moisture out.
In my case, the machine is angrily thumping when it is on 'spin', the noise increased threefold by the vibration of the clothes-horses shoved against the wall alongside the white metal box. I stand there in the din, thinking that my efforts to reduce our water usage and save our garden are tiny and insignificant and take up a lot of time.
But I feel proud when the bill arrives and we're way below the '155' litres limit per person. I feel proud when our lawn has enough green on it for this little guy to eat and play on....
....and our wild, crazy (and arthritic) beast can chew her dinosaur bone on some cool green....
.....and I'm proud of the new (but still miniscule) muscles that have emerged in my arms and that Sapphire is seeing how seriously we are treating the resources we have.
All of this guff was in my mind when I decided to take the above photos for this article. I just needed one more; a slightly artier one with the SLR on the tripod. A weird angle that takes in the living and the dead bits of the grass, so that the simile is revealed.
It was all set. I just needed to re-work the focus and -----
Milly's arse makes it seem even more appropriate, actually. I laughed so hard I farted. And that's a good sign.