For those of you who may have seen the photograph above and raised an eyebrow in wonder at the paraphernalia therein ~ no, I have not started distilling my own moonshine in the back woods of Waterloo County.
It seems, when the condo my family and I have been renting over the past year was designed, it’s owners were given a selection of “upgrades” to the basic construction by the developers. It is my observation that the building of new homes in most North American suburbs these days is very much akin to the assembly of fast-food combos ~ and probably made with similar amounts of chipboard, glue and vinyl.
Consumers get their basic McNutrition in Combo 1, 2 or 3 ~ but for a few cents more they can Supersize their meal-deal with Biggie Fries and an extra Large Coke. In similar fashion, one’s $X hundred-thousand dollar plus, primarily plastic dwelling can be upgraded further with various additional perks ~ wood laminate (that is….melamine resin derived from formaldehyde…ie plastic!!) flooring, poly fiber wall to wall carpet (more plastic!), or synthetic country kitchen cupboards (more plastic!). In the end, it hurts me to think of consumers paying so much money for plastic, prefab homes.
In any event ~ our very sweet condo owners opted for a selection of lovely aesthetic up-grades but did not choose a hard water faucet for the kitchen sink as one of them. In our area of South Western Ontario, water is very hard. Though hard water is not harmful to the health, left untreated, it leaves very heavy and corrosive mineral deposits in piping and sinks. Most homes in our area are outfitted with a water softening unit, frequently filled with rock salt that dissolves into the water, gradually breaking down the minerals. “Back in the day”, homes with water-softeners also had a separate faucet for hard water, intended for use in drinking, cooking or plant watering. Seems now that such a faucet is a luxury one must pay extra for when having their house built and thus, it was one “up-grade” our land lords did not think was very necessary to select for their rental property.
My family and I were initially neither here-nor-there about the faucet either, until last autumn when I inherited all of my mothers house plants after her passing. Many of the little leafy friends were very old ~ some having been inherited by my own mum from her mother (who died back in 1998) or my paternal grandmother who passed way in 1994. Initial watering with soft, salt-laden tap water quickly began to discolour many of the plants leaves, wilting the shoots of others and worrying me tremendously.
Immediately, I switched to using hard water from the only source available to us through an obscure outdoor water facet located under our back deck. Somewhat inconvenient to reach with watering cans, it was still worth the uncomfortable crouching to secure water our plants favoured better that provided by our indoor tap. Soon, a few feet of hose stretching up onto our deck near the kitchen doors made the indoor plant watering task even easier….until winter arrived.
Forced to winterize in mid-November and drain the out-door pipes to keep them from freezing, I was left without a hard water source and wondered what was to become of my beloved houseplants with only a diet of soft water during the long, frigid season that loomed.
Reflecting upon my rain harvesting in Pakistan, I quickly gathered up as many buckets, pails and containers as I could to begin collecting the last of the season’s rainfall. Reused 1 gallon glass apple cider bottles worked as great storage for the precipitation and once again, we had a pantry of palatable water for our thirsty plants.
As rain turned to snow in early December, I began shoveling the back deck into buckets then allowing the slush to melt in our kitchen before straining it into the cider jugs (with a tin funnel intended for automotive use) for future watering.
So, what may seem like a hobby in the making of good ol’ white lightening from the photo above is, in fact, only an innocent, suburban effort at rain harvesting for the sake of saving several small houseplants, and the sentimental affection I have for them. Well, at least that’s my story…and I’m sticking to it officer.