For those of you city folks who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a tank, usually underground, that collects and holds rainwater. My house is a century home. In the old part of the cellar – the part with the dirt floor – is my cistern – a very deep tank. Our guess is that it holds about 3000 gallons, maybe more. Considering that the ground is heavily stoned, I can’t imagine how this amazing tank was dug. It must have been dug by hand. It was, after all, at the turn of the last century – not this one. Yet, it is perfectly plumb and square – the sides smooth and clean. I have to climb up the side in order to look in the tank. Then, with a flashlight, I can almost make out the bottom. In the old days it held the sole supply of household water.
That got me thinking. What if a person accidentally fell in. There would be no way out. That person could scream and there would be nobody to hear him or her. Unless you knew the layout of the cellar, you would not even know a cistern was there. It’s that inconspicuous.
Alfred Hitchcock came to mind. What a horror story he could weave around that very tank.
Our household water comes from a drilled well. It gets pumped into the house where it gets filtered, softened and sterilized with UV lamp. It tastes wonderful and I’ll bet it’s cleaner than bottled water.
But I digress.
We did not want to use our expensive water for watering the garden. I had rain barrels but if it didn’t rain for a while they were empty and I had to go to the kitchen, fill up my watering can and water by hand. During dry spells, that used to take me two hours or more. We needed to connect the cistern and fill that beautiful tank with rain water.
Several thousand dollars later, we got our connection. The reason for the expense, three trades – plumber, electrician, roofer. Then we waited for rain. Finally, only this morning, the rains came. As I write, it is a slow and steady rain – the kind that soaks into the ground and makes our flowers smile. It’s been raining for at least 5 hours and looking in the tank, it hardly covered the bottom. It will be a long time before this tank is full.
Because our property is so large, we have three hoses connected to each other so as to get 150 feet of hose to water one side of the house. When that side is done, I roll up the hoses and move to the other side of the house to water.
Now I know why country properties with no town water usually don’t have elaborate gardens, either.
The next thing I’m planning to do is installing the drip system so I’ll never have to water again. I wonder what that costs? Well, that’s for another day. Right now, I’m happy with the way it is.