Still Playing With Water After All These Years

| 3/18/2011 9:07:55 AM

Tags: rainwater, solar pump, gardening, Cam Mather,

 If Michelle is from Venus, I’m from the planet “Immaturity” and I don’t see this changing any time soon. Apart from generally being a juvenile kind of 50 year old male, I still laugh to the point of feeling ill sometimes especially for slapstick comedy, like on the sitcom Modern Family, when the young son ran through the living room to go outside to play and bounced back on his *ss when he hit the screen door. Not highbrow stuff, but come on, how can you not laugh at that? Well … my wife manages to watch that scene without laughing. In fact I know that something is hysterical if Michelle actually cracks a smile.

Another area of my life where I show my immaturity is my love of “water play.” I spend a lot of my time playing with water and Michelle has given up on even rolling her eyes at me. She used to tease me about my hobby but now she just steps over the buckets and accepts it. I’ve been playing with water for as long as I can remember. As a kid at this time of year I enjoyed shoveling the snow and ice from around the storm drains to help with the spring runoff. During my summers at our family cottage I would spend hours building reservoirs with the sand on the beach and then carry endless buckets of water to fill it up. Eventually the water would get too high. For a while I’d try to staunch the leaks, but eventually the weight of the water would collapse my dam, a river would be created, the river created a delta and it was like a geography lesson on my summer holidays.

In our off grid house I still constantly play with water. Water is amazing stuff. For generating electricity moving water is great because it’s so heavy. There is a lot of potential energy in moving water. So having it fall a distance and turn a turbine is a great way to generate power. The reverse of that is that it takes a lot of energy to move water around. In an off grid home with finite electricity this is a basic fact that of which I am keenly aware. Now don’t get me wrong. After 13 years of upgrading our system I don’t HAVE to move any water manually. Our pump can do it all for me. But any time I have a chance to do it myself I rarely decline.

As you read on Tuesday, we’ve had a lot of rain here lately and it has caused its share of problems with flooded buildings. Right now I have two garbage cans under the downspouts near the house. I only ever use these for temporary water storage so they are very clean. First I fill up the corn pots on our woodstove with rainwater, and then I put 5 or 6 buckets on the floor near the woodstove. After dinner the pots on the stove will be scalding hot, and the buckets near the woodstove will have warmed up to room temperature. I use them all to fill up our claw foot bathtub. We end up with a deep, very hot bath, with soft rainwater. Sounds like something from an exclusive spa! And the only energy used to move that water came from the granola I ate.

In the summer I play with our rain barrels. They are always in a state of partial or complete fullness, so in the wee hours of the morning if there is suddenly the sound of rain on our metal roof, I will strap on my headlight and head outside to make sure all of the taps are switched off and the rain barrels are getting filled up. It’s like a compulsion, I just can’t sleep if I think I’ve left some rain barrel open to drain it, and I’m going to ‘waste’ that rainwater.

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