My mother grew up during the Great Depression and came of age during the rationing of World War II. I grew up on a cotton and soybean farm, a farm where Daddy used modern farming techniques to farm hundreds of acres, much like most of my friends' fathers did. But my mother was different. She had the requisite vegetable garden, but she also milked a cow twice a day and churned butter and gathered eggs and butchered chickens from her own chicken yard. My friends thought I lived some kind of Little House on the Prarie existence. I thought the cows and chickens were OK, but I couldn't wait to escape the frugality. So what do I find myself doing thirty years later? I'm packin' water.
Mother always saved her dishwater during the dry months and watered flowers and trees. (She also reused plastic wrap and marshmallow bags, but that's another story.) I thought she was nuts. Why didn't she just water with a hose like other people? Well, she did, but she never wasted the dishwater, either. She has told me many times how that the only two trees in our yard to survive the drout of 1955 were the two that she packed water to. (I've also never understood why she "packed" water to trees. Everything else she just carries.)
So what am I doing now when the summers get dry? I'm saving that dish water to water trees in our "woodlot." I've also been known to save my bath water. My husband thinks I'm crazy, but he loves me. My daughter (who's not yet old enough to think I'm crazy), thinks it's great fun to haul the water down the paths in her red wagon and water trees. And I now know that Mother wasn't nuts. But her home extended beyond the walls of her house, just like mine does. And at age 83, she's still gardening for life.