Bertha Burgundy


Several years ago Marian and I decided to buy a rain barrel.  We plant and water quite a few flowers, herbs and tomatoes every summer, and it just seemed like such a good idea.  Its free water and somehow we just knew that rain water would work better.  We were right, and the plants thrive.  The barrel is amazing; ¼ inch of rain will fill this huge barrel that started life as a wine barrel.  When we went to choose her, we could actually smell the Burgundy wine odor in the car on the way home.

We have a rule in our house; anything that has a certain presence, an aura… a personality… must be named.  We have named our rain barrel Bertha Burgundy.  Big Bertha for short.  Online we saw all kinds of rain collection devices; some were made out of plastic.  Some were made to look like wine or whiskey barrels, and others look more like trash barrels.  Bertha is made of oak, and has the traditional metal bands around her.  She has been retrofitted with a spigot, and overflow outlet, and a small intake that allows rain to run from a flexible downspout right into her big belly.

There have been only a couple times that Bertha has been running low; they say that the Twin Cities have been in a mild drought, but Bertha seems oblivious.  That ¼ inch of rain is not too hard to come by, and the water has helped our tomatoes, hanging baskets, and two large garden areas for three summers.  I, and the flowers, worry periodically about the drought devastating Bertha’s moxy.  She has never failed us yet… and, yet…

I am that rain barrel.  I, too, feel a drought and the danger of running dry.  As a piano teacher, I expend tons of energy (my rain water) on my students.  When they have their dry spells… their droughts… I have to water them.  I have to urge, manipulate and cajole.  I have to motivate them to practice and get them so close to success that they can tell the difference between my “water” and the tap water of trophies and parental mandates.  I feel the of drought most clearly in the spring.  All of the recitals, contests, festivals and major repertoire have been mastered.  At times all teachers feel the weight of pushing their students, up hill and at times, pushing dead weight.  We know the pushing is necessary, and our investments will pay out; but still, the energy saps us, and we feel drained, much as Bertha must at the mid-point of summer (her peak time.)

The rain always comes, and Big Bertha Burgundy is replenished; as am I.


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