Water; wine

Three years ago, at the planting of very special new vines at Ayama near Paarl, I had the privilege of putting in a few of the small plants, left, and was rewarded with a little plaque saying Carolyn Frost: Bolander. Now theyve come of age...

I know that our perception of time can sometimes feel like a cliche (“Can you believe it’s July?!”), but inconceivable as it seems, we’ve just passed the halfway mark of 2017, and now it feels like a very slippery slope indeed.

At least, in terms of all the projects I wish to tackle before Auld Lang Syne and all those other tunes start hitting the air- and brainwaves.

Probably the most compelling subject of the year, in the Western Cape at least, has been water. The elixer, not of youth, particularly, but of life itself.

On Sunday evening, during a twilight walk around garden and home, I started making a list of what else I could possible do to capture, conserve and redistribute water, given the latest restrictions announced (see page 3).

Rain tanks are an obvious (and pressing) option, but the catch (other than financial constraints) is I don’t have any gutters presently (bar a dilapidated one stretching along a small section of the original roof of this rather old, added-onto house in which I live).

It’s also an unusual design, given the extensions made over the years, so I’ve made a rudimentary map of how I can construct said gutters (I wish I could conjure up an industrial 3-D printer), and patch the joints together (I’m no real handyman, although I consider myself very creative when it comes to “jimmy-rigging”… and in typical fashion, I quickly break away to look up the origin of the term, elephant’s child that I am, but my dictionary doesn’t yield a particularly reassuring definition; perhaps I should rather call in an expert).

Then again, my sister Audrey always described experts as follows: “an ‘ex’ is a has-been, and a ‘spurt’ is just a drop of water under pressure”.

Ah, the distractibility of the ADD-brain… back to saving water.

So, measurements in hand, I counted how many water containers I could place to capture the water that currently cascades off my roof to the ground, and already my “rands and sense” tally is daunting.

Pressing on, I examined all the outlet pipes emerging at rather inaccessibly low points:

Laundry machine, currently not being captured; ditto for dishwasher (although I have switched to biodegradabe detergents in both). But how to get my hands on the grey water… no simple task.

Already I cart around buckets of water from showers and basins, upstairs and downstairs (laying strips of carpet and towels to catch up the inevitable drips, which have sometimes resulted in me slipping and falling jolly hard, attested to by a bruised posterior), and every time I re-heat my hot water bottle, I use the water again. But becoming even more waterwise is a necessity.

Hopefully the City will subsidise some of our efforts, hint hint…

Carolyn Frost: Editor