The Suitcase Lady


July 17, 2012, 9:15 pm

Can any sound be more wonderful than the tick,tick,tick, whoosh of the oscillating sprinkler on a hot, still summer night?

Sitting on the porch at dusk, knowing how happy the grass and flowers must be as they soak up the cool water is a wonderful thing to do.

James Agee in his short story,  Knoxville : Summer, 1915, perfectly captures the mood of a summer night when the neighborhood fathers are out watering their lawns:

“So many qualities of sound out of one hose: so many choral differences out of those several hoses that were within earshot. Out of any one hose, the almost dead silence of the release, and the short still arch of the separate big drops, silent as a held breathe, and the only noise the flattering noise on leaves and the slapped grass at the fall of each big drop. That, and the intense hiss with the intense stream; that, and the same intensity not growing less but growing more quiet and delicate with the turn of the nozzle, up to that extreme tender whisper when the water was just a wide bell of film.”

My husband, who knows a great deal about the scientific workings of water, informs me that our sprinkler’s efforts aren’t as good as real rain. “Rain brings nitrogen as well,” he explains.

But I’m still content to know all those roots are lapping away. I’m also aware of how lucky I am to have the world’s fifth largest lake in my front yard. In a world where vast areas are drying up, I have water as far as I can see.

Some things should never be taken for granted. Water is high on that list.

1 Comment for this entry

  • evie

    MARY–More than high on the list; I know you know it’s imperative. But I loved your blog and now I want to return to James Agee; it’s been too long . . .