Saturday, March 01, 2008

Watering Cans and Deep Snow

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Almost 6:30 here at Vermont Flowerless Farm. The sky is gray and light granular snow has been falling for several hours. It's 16 degrees and at least the high winds of last night until 1 this morning have stopped and the weather front that will deliver snow is right over us. Last night's weather forecast said a chance of five inches but it's difficult to tell. Alex and I leave in an hour for Jericho so I wanted to get up and see if plowing was necessary. I care less about our place on the weekend than Gail's mother's house. 91 year olds have an infinity for ambulances and fast driving cars with red flashing lights so I try to keep things opened up for that group of visitors. We are beginning to learn too many names so that's an indication of the need to keep the road open.

A couple days back I was in the cellar trying to sort out last fall's onslaught of gear which makes its way into the cellar each fall, care of a well intentioned gardener who dreams of well kept wooden handles and engines that run on the first pull. This year has been worse than many and the pile is still a pile. As I worked through widening the paths and getting things sorted, I glanced at some of the watering cans I have collected. They are not all garden watering cans but they are metal so they represent a time that has passed. Most except the very expensive English reproductions are made of plastic now and these older ones grasp the past that some younger gardeners do not even remember.

One metal can could be found at every garage in America as it was used to fill radiators in the "pre-antifreeze, use-water-in-summer" days. It has a long neck and a flange to set in the top of the radiator. Those cans required a person with bulging muscles and stamina to hold three gallons of water straight out in the air while the radiator filled to overflowing.

One watering can needed a little reconstruction with a ball peen hammer as it's history obviously had included a frozen period of disrespect. The others are just worn but they probably have good garden stories to tell if they could talk. I can remember my dad always used one to wash out the cavity of newly dressed farm animals and deer before bringing them inside to drip and be butchered.

There's no need for watering cans today as the gardens are covered with a good three feet of snow and in most places it has piled more than five feet deep. The New Holland 30 horse tractor that joined us last summer has a reach of 11.5 feet. The snow has presented challenges for the tractor and the operator as this year has presented more snow than any time we have been here in Marshfield.

If you are out an about between now and spring gardening time, drop in to a few antique malls or indoor flea markets and pick up an old watering can or two. They are not cheap and are not that prevalent. Placed anywhere in your garden, the watering cans will look like a gardener stopped to think as gardeners do. "Anyplace" with a watering can is never "out of place" in your garden.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where Karl the wonder dog went in and out with the speed of the guy with the red shirt and the big "S" and I can hear ice fishermen on the pond drilling holes in three foot thick ice in their pursuit of record brown trout and bragging rights among their peers.

Good garden thoughts to all,

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Gardens Another good blog
Vermont Flower Farm Our website, fully functional but under reconstruction


joey said...

Hold tight, George. The gods here have sent in March as a lamb and I pray the weather is headed your way. We are expecting a 'balmy' forcast for 40s this week ;)

Cabs said...

Indeed...if those cans could talk! I have a few of those oldies myself and wonder what stories they would tell.
Glad to have found your blog. Stop by and visit me at Terra Nova when you have a minute. My garden in in Western Mass.

George Africa said...

Hello Joey; This "lamb thing" has been thoroughly overrated by the lions. I spent an hour this morning at 11 degrees picking up limbs from +90 foot white pines that border our road. Forecasters say higher temps and freezing rain in a couple days. Tuesday is Town Meeting Day in Vermont when you go to your town or city hall for the day and discuss the money your town no longer has to fund all its projects. It is either very nice weather or it is down right terrible. Usually it is not good.


Betsy said...

I love the old watering cans and pictures ~ thanks for posting! A few years back I went to buy a new watering can and was disappointed at the plastic and lack of design!
I'll have to look for an old one!