A pipe is singing. I can hear it, under the sink, whistling away.
It’s been doing this for some time. I have been hoping this is some sort of aberration, an echo, perhaps just something about houses I don’t understand. After all, if something was leaking, there would be water. This much, I know. And I can find no water, so, I can only presume that perhaps there is no leak. I don’t like to jump to conclusions these days.
The last time this happened, I could not hear it because it was not under a sink, it was outside. Eventually there was a small pond. I gave it a name. I considered growing watercress. I live in the desert.
I think water likes me. I think of water as rain, and I think of rain as Rain. We have a kind of relationship, me and Rain. She doesn’t like being trapped in pipes and I don’t like being yelled at. Rain is really good at yelling at people, though I try not to judge them when she does. She has her reasons and they are not clear to us, as we humans mostly do not speak her language well, if at all.
It’s really embarrassing to be keeping her trapped in a pipe. I don’t like being her jailor. How would you like being trapped in a pipe?
So this singing is leaving me a little entranced, I’ll freely admit. In a guilty sort of way. Here we go again. Me and Rain, in our dysfunctional relationship.
The singing has gotten louder and I have found the water. It’s near the fig tree. This is good, the fig tree could use some water.
The water is now starting to become a swamp. I have started to dig shallow channels to move her around.
The water really wants to take over the yard and I am getting tired of digging. Also she is investigating the inside of the house. Concrete is weeping and drywall is molding. It’s September now. This romance must, for now, come to an end.
I call up the City and talk to a man. “Turn her off,” I request. “I have a leak.”
But first I fill up every container I have with her wonderful self.
The man arrives, he wields the valve. They are strong, buried, iron valves. I don’t have valves like those. I don’t have any valves at all.
Then he locks the valve. Rain is trapped inside, away from me, away from where I can hear her singing her distress. Her prison has become distant.
We’re on our own now.
The second swamp has dried. I hope the water table is strong. The second swamp was lovely, the smell alone. And the insects. So pleasant.
It’s winter now. Rain usually isn’t around a lot here, in winter.
I am learning more about water. I buy water for a quarter a gallon from water purifying machines. I would just scavenge it from gas station taps, convenience store taps, park faucets; but they don’t much do that any more, give away water. You have to really search. I do that occasionally, though.
I am also learning about managing water, about thinking about water. It’s not a casual business when you don’t have direct access to some kind of well, or even a truck or car to haul her with. I gradually find myself managing water like a chemistry lab. I never use her without planning, without thinking how many times can I reuse her?
I quickly form systems of triage. Water with soap in it goes into the sewer lines, other water goes on plants, after being used more than once. Sometimes I find ways to use her several times. I find myself contemplating how I might piss and shit in the compost bins, but I live in town. I give up that idea.
I also find myself developing a relationship with Rain. I start talking to her. I watch the weather forecasts on various Internet pages.
When she comes, I stand outside and thank her. I raise my arms to the sky and go silent and think of her.
It’s spring and the monsoon has come early. They say El Nino is predicted but as far as I can tell, she’s here right now. I have old rain buckets that I trashpicked from grocery store bakery icing discards, they catch rain from the roofs. I have so much rain that I process it like a chemistry lab: I let it settle, skim off the top, put it in containers, sterilize with bleach (eight drops to the gallon and make sure your bleach does not get stale). Then I boil the rain for good measure, and use it, her, for cleaning. I clean my dishes, my clothes. I send her down the sewer when I’m done. It’s a good year for rain.
One of my dog leaves. He hates Rain, he’s left before. He always wants to leave and this time I let him. This is hard.
It’s fall now. Rain comes massively over a few days in September, as she did last September. The plants celebrate, we all celebrate. I start thinking about more rain buckets. Eventually I buy more on Ebay.
Rain blessed me this year, but after this I ask her to go to California. She does. Sort of.
She returns as snow in late December. We have a blizzard. It is a huge pain in the ass. The sidewalks are covered with snow for a good week. Bicycling is difficult. It is scary. I thank Rain for this considerable contribution, this gift. I collect her with a tiny snow shovel.
It’s been dry since then. I measure Rain in centimeters. I don’t use her for cleaning much anymore, I give her directly to plants when I collect her, I’m just moving her around.
Sometimes the water vending machine is down. I found their email address and they will send someone out to fix it if you ask.
It’s July and the monsoon has come. She rains all over the place, in little patches, rarely just here. I appreciate her being around, she is such a blessing, her presence. I don’t ask her for anything anymore. I think more about what she might be asking from us, what she might be wanting that we’re not hearing.
I don’t formally thank her anymore. I am always thinking of her, and when she speaks, I listen.