Rose Petals: The Dust Bowl of the Thirties Revisited
Kathleene Runnels is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
There is a young mother I want to tell you about who has learned how to make water stretch. It all began about a year ago, when the drought really reared its ugly head. Since early in the summer, her husband has been traveling 22 miles each way to the local town and back, hauling water he purchases from the city.
It doesn’t cost much, amazingly, except for the cost of fuel to make that trip, at least twice a week, and the loss of valuable time he could be spending as a rancher, husband, and father. These trips provide water for the livestock, replenishing first one metal tank, then another. When the number of weekly trips increased, it was because the family’s water well, the only one on their ranch or in the area of this vast northwest Texas ranch community, went dry in the fall.
So, one of the trips is to re-stock the cistern for household use. And the drought goes on. And it’s very likely that even that nearby town that has had ample water to sell will soon see its supply dwindle enough to make it impossible to continue selling their water.
So, I mentioned making the water stretch. This mother has reduced the daily baths for the preschoolers to every other day, with the second child bathing in the first child’s left-over water. (Of course it’s girl, then boy! Just as when this writer was a child!) The teenager does bathe daily, but she’s admonished to turn off the shower while she soaps body and hair, then turn the water back on to rinse, and the water’s captured in the tub. And never leave the water running while brushing teeth. But there’s more. Following these baths, Mother goes in and scoops up the water and hauls it outside to nourish the thirsty trees. It takes several trips, using a 5-gallon bucket.
Then there’s the kitchen water. Not only does this family not use their dishwasher, which in itself conserves energy and water, they are careful to wash dishes in one sink, rinse in the other, then, as with bath water, capture that water to use outdoors. She says that in a week’s time, she can recycle 80 gallons of water. “I wish I had been doing this for the last 365 days!” she exclaims. “Then maybe our trees in the yard wouldn’t all be dying.”
Is this the Dust Bowl of the Thirties revisited? Apparently it is. But this life I’ve described isn’t from the thirties, even though it sounds like it. It is a young family’s life of today, a family who lives in West Texas, 2013!
I think this industrious young mother could give us a lesson or two in conserving our water! If rain doesn’t come soon to South Texas, we will all wish we had adopted her practices. Instead, we take long showers, run the water till it gets warm, allow the cows’ water troughs to overflow, keep our swimming pools filled, fail to use cisterns to catch rainwater when it does come....
Let’s start today to conserve water by changing our wasteful habits.