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My Water Keepers

Both Cora and Maddie are avid gardeners.
They come by their green thumbs honestly on both sides of their
family tree: my family has a long history of tending to the earth,
and Brian absolutely adores working outside and seeing things grow.
So we’ve spent the spring growing things from seeds,
transplanting them to outside, and watching them grow into flowers.
Cora especially enjoys puttering in our side garden many mornings;
our side garden is our herb and vegetable space, and she loves
sniffing the rosemary or checking on the basil or watching our
raspberry bush (which alas succumbed to Texas heat last week). She
and Maddie both can spend an hour out there, arranging rocks or
checking the rain gauge or checking out the hummingbird feeder. And
just last week, we got a new addition to the side garden
that’s got them all atwitter:

We got a rain barrel.

I’ve been eyeing a rain barrel for a
long time, I have to admit. I think they’re incredibly cool,
catching rainwater from the gutter for us to use outside. But
let’s face it: water’s cheap. The person who sold me
our rain barrel admitted that it would cost thirty-three CENTS to
fill up our fifty-five-gallon rain barrel with city water. So
it’s been hard to justify buying one purely on a money-saving

We finally bought one from a friend of the family whose son is
selling them to raise money for college. He’s doing all the
work building and installing, and it’s the sort of thing we
want to support; the entire family is into organic gardening and
environmental stewardship, and I’ve learned a lot from them.
And since our city offers a nice rebate when you buy a water
barrel, we finally got off our butts and bought one.

Listen, you’d think it was Christmas all over again the way
the girls freaked out about the rain barrel. For several days
afterwards they kept staring at the sky, willing it to rain so we
could put our mighty new toy to use. And about an hour after a
torrential downpour finished, the family lined up and marched out
to check out the fruits of, well, our roof I guess.

Our rain barrel has a spigot at the bottom where you can attach a
hose or simply fill your watering can, and the girls took turns
filling the watering can over and over again. Since it had just
rained, Maddie didn’t want to waste the water, and would pour
the filled can back into the barrel. They thought it was the
coolest thing ever.

And you remember how all Cora wanted for Christmas was her own,
live tree? And how she got a potted spruce? We planted that thing
this spring on the other side of the house, and the day after our
rainstorm she was begging to water her tree with the
“free” water. She’d fill up her watering can,
trudge all the way to the other side of the house, pour carefully,
and trudge back for another load. A few full cans later, she asked
me what else needed watering, since she still had water in her can.
“Um, nothing I can think of,” I replied absentmindedly.
“Why don’t you just pour it in the bushes?”

Cora stared at me, shocked. “I don’t want to just WASTE
the water, Mommy! I’ll just put it back for later.”

And that right there’s why we got the rain barrel. We
won’t make our money back for a few years, though we’ll
probably save several herbs and produce plants each year because
they’ll finally be watered enough. But the girls are learning
a great lesson in stewardship, and using our resources. They see
how they can use what we’ve already got to provide for what
we’re raising. If Maddie pours a glass of water to drink when
she brushes her teeth, and doesn’t drink it all, now
she’ll use the rest of it to wash out her sink from
toothpaste residue. I can see her starting to think differently,
and it makes me happy.

As for Cora, man, she’s hard-core. It’s been six months
and she hasn’t forgotten about that tree, and I love that.

Rain barrel from href="http://www.thewaterkeeper1.com/Home.html" target="_blank">The
Water Keeper
: $60

Watering can: $2

Watching my sweet girl water her own tree with rain water:


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