Ballard: A hose used to be the best fun on a summer day

June 1, 2014 

It had been a while since I used it. During the winter months it had been put to rest, tightly coiled on its holder. I stood there looking for the end of the water hose so I could begin to unroll it. It was so tightly wound it ended up being more of a job than I had anticipated.

I struggled as I slowly released it. Round and round it rolled off, stopping every so often because it was caught. Finally, it was free and I was ready to water some plants.

Because we have a sprinkler system, I don’t water plants much anymore with a water hose. It’s something I miss at times because I really enjoy it. It takes me back to my days of watering along side my grandmother.

She would place her old, arthritic thumb over the nozzle to simulate raindrops. We would stand together side by side for what seemed like hours watering anything in her yard that had been abandoned by the lack of rain.

There is something magical about the process of watering with a hose. It may be that gazing at the spraying water becomes somewhat hypnotic after a while. May be it’s watching the unpredictable journey a water drop takes as it slowly rolls down the surface of a leaf leaving a slight trail behind it.

Whatever the reason, people become almost tranquil while watering with a hose. If you don’t believe me, just watch people in your neighborhood as they do it.

Being around water has always invited relaxation or at the very least, fun! And, during the years, a water hose has offered many hours of happiness.

The water hose was always a very important part of our summers when I was growing up. It was a staple to quench thirsts and cool off from the oppressive summertime heat in Middle Georgia. Lacking money and a swimming pool, we did without a lot of things but a water hose was not one of them.

Back in the days when we kids actually played in our backyards, the water hose was just like one of our best friends. It played with us just the same. With only one quick turn, water would flow through its snakelike shape slowly working its way to the end. It appeared to be coming alive as the water filled it up.

I remember holding it up to my face, closing one eye and staring down into it waiting on the water’s arrival. I was met many times with a hot gush of water that had heated up from traveling through the very hot hose. We even -- horror of horrors -- drank from the hose!

I think about this every time I pass bottled water in the stores. We didn’t even know what bottled water was back then. I thought all drinking water poured from a faucet inside or out.

“Don’t forget to let the hose run for a minute or so before you drink from it,” Mother would say to us and we knew exactly why. Any bugs or spiders living in the hose would be evacuated and the water would have a chance to cool.

I’m smiling as I type this because I can’t tell you the gallons of water I drank from the hose as a child. It was so refreshing to us on hot, humid summer afternoons. We grew to love the little hint of plastic hose taste that came with it. The only thing better was sweet iced tea or fruit-flavored Kool-Aid.

After drinking from the hose, if you were really hot, you could just hold the hose over your head and allow it to completely cascade down your entire body covering your clothes and all. It didn’t matter. It was absolutely fine to get covered with dirt and mud while playing outside.

Sometimes, we’d strip down to our underwear as we sprayed each other down or took turns running through the water while someone else held the hose. Between all the giggles and frolics, hours and hours passed before we knew it.

We learned to use a finger, just like Granny, to manually control the spray. We could make the water come out in a forceful spray or with gentle rain-like droplets. Our day always became extra special when we were able to line up the misty spray of water perfectly with the sun’s rays to create a colorful rainbow. Like magic filling the sky above us, we couldn’t have been any happier if there was a pot of gold at the end.

When it was time to come inside, Mother would hose us down one good time to remove any dirt that had embedded into our clothes or skin. Mother always had a wet rag to scrub away any remaining “turnip patches,” as she called them, where dirt had settled into the folds of skin under our necks and a towel ready to dry us off.

All these memories flowed through my mind like water through the hose as I stood in our backyard watering plants. Watering is a great way to lose your problems and daily issues -- if only for a short time. You may want to try it. Simply gaze into the water and lose yourself. Each drop is like a sparkling diamond falling from the sky bringing with it memories of pure gold.

You can even spray yourself if you like. Who’s going to know? After all, it’s officially about to be summer!

More with Mark

• Check out Mark’s website at www.markballard.com, for current projects, recipes and lots of other fun stuff and Mark’s tees, prints, cards and his collectible porcelain plates!

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Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; e-mail to markballard@cox.net; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.

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