Three years ago, we bought a rain barrel for the Hampton Victory Garden through a program sponsored by the water company. Skyjuice New England provides the barrels to communities at a reduced price to encourage water conservation. Since we have running water at the garden, the rain barrel is used primarily for hand washing and back up in the event of a drought. Last summer we had a little problem with the faucet, but one of our talented and handy gardeners fixed it, so I didn’t even pay attention.
I liked the rain barrel so much I brought one home and convinced Uncle Bob I would help him save money on his water bill if he helped me to install it. One smoking hot June day, my father and Uncle Bob did the heavy lifting while I supervised and we installed a gutter for my beloved barrel. The Three Stooges had nothing on us that day, but it all worked out once the shouting was over. I’ve had cool, clear, oxygenated water for my tomatoes ever since.
Last week, while worrying about drought conditions, I made a phone call home to make sure Uncle Bob had put up my rain barrel. Sure enough, my mother confirmed “all systems go” for the predicted rain.
On Saturday, no rain fell. I spent the afternoon at The Moxie Store, celebrating Frank Anicetti’s birthday, and I didn’t think about my rain barrel. Early Sunday morning, I walked down to the library to post my blog and rain was falling by the time I walked home. The sight and sound of the rain was pleasing to me as I walked up Main Street and I wanted to hear the sound of rain running off the shed roof into my rain barrel.
It was early; not even six o’clock. No signs of Uncle Bob and no water collecting. There was only a slow trickle of water running out of the faucet hole at the bottom of the barrel. The faucet was missing! I ran home, thinking as I ran. I tried to compose myself, but since I am always 10 years old when I am in Lisbon Falls, I marched into the house, out of breath, and proclaimed “the rain barrel is broken. The faucet is missing.” My father said he didn’t remember seeing the faucet. He recounted this year’s installation and who had done what; he said it sounded like a Three Stooges episode. I reminded him that there had only been Two Stooges involved, he and Uncle Bob.
I won’t bore you with the details of my 6:15 a.m. call to Uncle Bob, the 7:30 a.m. post-breakfast investigation, and the 9:00 a.m. trip to Aubuchon Hardware. We got the parts we needed to replace the broken faucet.
Uncle Bob was at McDonald’s, so my father and I did the job alone. It was a simple fix. Except no one had arms long enough to reach into the rain barrel and screw the pipe coupling to the faucet. I don’t even think an NBA player could have done it; that barrel is 35 inches tall.
Someone was going to have to crawl inside the rain barrel.
Fortunately, I have been blessed with a “pear shape” and I am not “barrel chested.” I was able to shimmy into the barrel and attach the washer and the coupling. My father laughed when I said, muffled through the barrel, “this must be quite a sight; my butt hanging out of the rain barrel.”
When I got back to New Hampshire, I blasted off an e-mail to Skyjuice New England. If they didn’t respond, I had the power of the internet behind me and I would blog about it. Luckily, they were “pronto tonto” in responding as follows:
“We have had a few barrels whose faucets have broken. We are not sure why this is happening so appreciate your email. I also don’t really like to squeeze into them to replace faucets so will work to make sure we don’t have more that break.”
They also graciously offered to replace my barrel, but that won’t be necessary.
I’m just one happy pear today.
Have you ever crawled into a rain barrel?