What I like about where I live is that I could and still to a large extent experience all the four seasons as we know them.
Though since a few years it’s become increasingly difficult to settle into the season. It’s like Mother Nature is bipolar or just can’t really make up her mind. We’ve had some crazy 90 degree temps in April, when it shouldn’t cross 60’s and there was one really cold day August. Yet one thing that has remained constant thankfully has been that the summers can be counted on to be hot, with evening showers (read thunderstorms, not tropical rains) and the winters to be well, bitterly cold.
Along with the insanity that summer brings, topsy turved schedules, random mealtimes, gardening with a vengeance that recedes as quickly once schools start, book clubs, and guzzling ice creams, milkshakes and popsicles by the gallons, there is a constant that I love and is very special just for the summer alone.
It’s the sprinklers.
Sure, there are more, but this closely resembles the rains of Madras, and hence very special to me.
Everyone has their sprinklers set to go off between 6-7 am, and a good soaking lawn needs an hour at least. A childhood habit of waking up much earlier than when school is on continues. Vacations and weekends, am up earlier than when I had to go to school, and in today’s case when the kids go. Lunches have to be packed and the trauma that follows on what to pack for three different kids of different tastebuds and belly sizes requires some project planning and spreadsheet drama.
So now that the worry is off my head, I can make my lovely hot cup of coffee, and have a pleasant silent one-sided conversation with my Zephie (hello people, meet our new member of the family!) out on the deck. The air is still cool, the birds chirp every now and then and I can see the sun, but am not in it, and I laze back into a chair and breathe deep and close my eyes.
I hear it slow at first. The swoosh as my neighbor’s sprinkler comes close to our deck, and the wave as it fans away. Right on cue, the other wave comes in from another angle, sometimes in sync, sometimes out, as they go through the motions. In the distance I see the jet stream angled towards the rose bushes, the strong current in a steady path, unwavering. The little froggy sprinkler that my neighbor’s toddler placed fires up too. It’s cute, when it spurts out its own little crescendo. Like the small most forgotten Sruti box or the metronome in an orchestra.
The soil gets moist, and the grass glistens, fresh, new and inviting. I step into the grass with my bare feet and it’s a feeling that cannot be replicated. I sniff the air above the soil every single time, trying to match it with the memory of when I was a child. Every time I am disappointed. The smell is different. It’s not the same, yet this is home, I must get used to this.
Zephie enjoys the mist, taunting the direction, swallowing a drop here and there, continuously fascinated with the fan going back and forth.
Visions of my then toddlers running across the sprinklers laughing, squealing, sometimes dodging, sometimes attacking the sprays flash past me. It’s bittersweet. Now they stand on the deck, watching with a detached mind, the sprinkler was really just doing what it was meant to.
One day, they will make their own memories of what that stream of water over the lush green summer lawns means to them. This here is my memory of a summer favorite in Virginia.