Muddying The Waters

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imagesLittle boys are proof positive that God formed the first man from the dust of the earth, because they have such an affinity to dirt. Those who would insist that that is not how we got here at all, could also use little boys to buttress their own arguments concerning the origin of mankind. Some say that man evolved from earlier life forms that came from the water, and little boys certainly do seem to also have a great affinity to water. They would spend all the summer day long trying to get back into it if they were left to their own devices, no matter what their mothers’ opinions are on the matter. The only conclusion that we can come to is that the waters have definitely been muddied!

My two great- nephews are good examples of the draw that water has on their inner psyches. My son, who is actually their second cousin but who is referred to as their Uncle Steven, was here for a visit on a warm day a few weeks ago. So he took them off for a walk and showed them some of the things that boys are most interested in.Both Joshua and Jacob were here with their mothers,Sheri and Andrea, my sister Kathy’s girls. The two boys have frequent play dates together despite the age difference of over a year. Joshua is the older one and he is much gentler and respectful of Jacob’s feelings. Jacob, on the other hand,couldn’t have cared less about Joshua’s feelings until recently. At a little over two years old, courtesy has just not been on his radar much yet. Even so he is now beginning to see the wisdom in taking turns. It makes for more play time before someone has to go home because of “crankiness”.

Nothing could be more beautiful than to see Joshua bending down somewhat to Jacob’s level, and throwing his arms around him in a big hug. Put water into the picture and all such harmony disappears. There is a very large flat stone in the garden in front of our house. It has a hole drilled through the center of it, and it is positioned over a small reservoir of water hidden underneath it. The pump, which is submerged in the water, causes a fountain of gurgling water to come bubbling up through the hole. It then flows over the rocks in all directions to the smaller rocks below. It is such a soothing place to sit and watch the little birds come to shower themselves or take a quick dip and sip on the fly-by. Peace, tranquility, relaxation— all this is at hand in the parasol- like shade of the neighbouring red bud, to the lee of a magnificent blue spruce. It is the perfect place to sit with a book in hand— that is when there are no little boys who have been newly educated in the mechanics of water flow by their “Uncle” Steven. No longer does the water burble and bubble in mellifluous harmony with the sweet song of the house wren, the cardinal, and the gold finches.

The benign little eruption of water becomes a malevolent geyser to be directed at a squealing cousin, each taking his own turn, or sometimes his own and his cousin’s turn,putting their foot over the hole, until both boys are super-soaked right down to their respective Toy Story underpants and disposable “just in case” diaper. Then the boys sneak away by a circuitous route towards the water tap that is directly over the newly drilled well. From the freezing cold aquifer 80 feet below the earth, with a gulley- gouging intensity of 20 gallons per minute if left on, the boys summon forth the one thing they can’t seem to resist— no matter how often they are warned not to do so. Water! Faster than a flying fish flashing from the foam, they flick the faucet forward and flood the freesia flowers.

It is no more likely that the four of us,(their mothers, Sheri and Andrea, their Aunt Carrie and I ) could keep them from that water, than a salmon could be stopped from swimming upstream, (bears or no bears!) Yes, I suppose with all our orders to “Stop playing with the tap!”, and to “Quit climbing onto the rock!” we might have seemed a little overbearing that day. But within five minutes of when they inadvertently water- cannoned themselves into what looked like blue- lipped little mud wrestlers, there were no more big bears or little bares about. Stripped quickly of their clothes and rubbed vigorously with a couple of their Aunt Yvonne’s crispy line- dried towels the two little bares were as cold as two cubs from a Coca Cola commercial could ever be. I remember learning in High School science class that water molecules tend to stick together because of their polar covalent bonds. With these little boys it was more a case of “polar cousinly bonds” as Joshua hugged Jacob tightly in a loving embrace, shivering under a big blue bath towel.

Donny at the farm gas pump, water tank at the end of the greenhouse in the backround.

Donny at the farm gas pump, water tank at the end of the greenhouse in the backround.

All this writing about little boys and water has taken me back in memory to another little boy and another water tap. This one was at the base of the big elevated water tank on our family farm. This story has a bear in it too, but it was a big grumpy Papa bear, who had warned his little cub not to play with the water tap with the big long hose attached to it. The water in the tank would be needed to water the green house after it had warmed up a bit, and little boys who played with water taps sometimes forgot to turn them off. The little boy was my youngest brother Don, and he was 5 or 6 years old, and I was a teenager, 10 years older than him at the time. I did not see the beginning of the story, but only the last few chapters. I came along just as the discipline for his disobedience was being firmly applied to his backside by our Dad.
I did not agree with my father on the harshness of Donny’s spanking, nor would Dad have agreed with it either, if he had thought it through before so hastily delivering it, as our dad was a very gentle and loving man. That day his frustration had bubbled over and I understood it completely when I came a little closer and saw the aftermath of my little brother’s disobedience.

The farm I grew up on was extremely sandy, in the tobacco belt near Melbourne Ontario. Because the soil was so sandy, because of the additional water pressure augmented by the elevated tank, and because of the diameter of the hose attached to the water tap, my brother was able to achieve something amazing. He was actually the youngest person ever to do hydraulic drilling, something you might see advertised as a terrific money saving option for the thrifty do-it-yourself well driller!
Donny was simply playing when he inserted the end of the hose into the ground and turned on the tap. His one goal was just to see what would happen, and then when it happened, to ensure that it happened as quickly and powerfully as possible! He cranked the tap on full blast and blew the giant snake of a hose a foot into the ground! Then two! Then three! Then four! The at five feet down it hit harder soil or perhaps a rock and went sideways and blasted through several more feet of sand horizontally.

Dad was in the middle of planting season, and just then he had a shortage of three things— time, money and patience. No money to throw around on another hose, no patience due to the sheer exhaustion of the pace he had to keep during the summer months. And no time to waste going to the store when they opened in the morning. By then the workers would have already arrived to begin planting tobacco.(It was a transition in the farm’s focus, and a way to bolster the farm’s income in later years, in a time when even family doctors smoked—sometimes in their offices in front of patients!) Soon Dad was at it, shovel in hand working at break-neck speed as usual to recover the buried hose.He finished several hours later.

I sat on the grass by the white board fence beside the driveway with my little brother who was still breathing with those little shudders that come upon a person who has had a very hard cry. I was really mad at my dad even though it was a rare show of temper on his part. Sure Donny was disobedient, but how was he to know that such a thing could happen? He was such a little boy. Soon, after I applied a little bit of sisterly consolation there were no more water works, and he was back to being our Dad’s treasure again— the Baby— the one who had nobody after him barging in to take his place. I think sometimes that of all of us, when Mom and Dad had him that they saved the best ‘til last. After this little mud puppy they just had to break the mold. (Sorry, Donny with all your avid nature channel viewing you may not think mud puppies are so very cute, but they sound cute to me so I’m not going to edit this.) Love You Still, Vonnie

About Yvonne's Musings

Being the second of eight kids born in 11 years to my busy parents ultimately was a real advantage to me. I learned very early that if you wanted to be heard amidst all the noise the best way to accomplish it was to write your thoughts down. My first post to my mother," i hate skool. i cried at skool tooday!" was stuck with ABC chewing gum to the lid of the diaper pail, where I was certain that she would find it. Her attention quickly elicited in me a love of writing that has been life long. Seeking a wider audience I have decided to now, decades later, blog. Happy reading Mom! This is for you!

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