Underground Connections

From greengardenaz.com

Not my house–From greengardenaz.com

During our hard freeze a few weeks ago, a lot of irrigation pipes burst. During my walk today, I saw a lot of repairs happening. Many of our front yards in Phoenix are xeriscaped–no lawn, just a mix of gravel, plants, and rocks. The effect can be lovely, but even those desert plants have to get water. We don’t flood them (flood irrigation is common in older parts of towns), we drip water at the base of each plant. This happen early in the morning, so no water is wasted in evaporation.

To bring the drip line to each plant, the yard is first dug up, a grid of pipes put down, small hose connectors attached, and then the gravel is placed over the pipes, hiding them. The system runs on a timer, and it works well. Until, of course, a freeze hits, and the pipes burst.

Simple pipe diagram for xeriscaped yard.

Simple pipe diagram for xeriscaped yard.

When a yard is dug up, it’s like seeing an X-ray of the yard. Most people forget about the complex system of pipes that run about three inches under the ground.

When I walked past a house in the middle of pipe repair, I thought of how home owners have to plan their yards to fit into a pipe system–you can’t just put plants anywhere, they have to be close to the water source.

And, of course, my next thought was that creativity works the same way. We can’t just jump from project to project. There needs to be a flow. And we can’t put thirsty, energy-needing ideas at the end of the supply source. Creativity, too, requires planning. And a lot of creativity is hidden, but planned and organized. Of course, connections are everything. If a connection breaks, you have to start digging to fix the project.  The timer has to be set to create a flow over time. It’s great to water your ideas once a week, but when things heat up, you’ll be upping the flow to make it last longer and more days a week.

It made me smile for the next half mile, coming up with how creativity is like the pipes in my yard. Of course, I’m easily amused.

-Quinn McDonald just came up with a great idea for a cover for the loose-leaf pages used in the inner hero book. She can’t share it, but it made her do the happy dance.


15 thoughts on “Underground Connections

  1. Easily amused? Me too . . . there was a plastic bag being blown down the road and I thought what dangerous place it had chosen to play.

    I’m a bit of a jumper which is why I’m pretty okay at a lot of things . . . one of those ‘Jills of all trades’ who can do a bit of this and that, with a degree of competence. It’s a talent or strength in itself and it means that nothing is off limits when it comes to leaping in and having a go. There is part of me however, that would like to get really good at something. Hold on! I am really good at being okay at lots of things! And that is good enough!

    Now, I’m off to go and jump at something, get a little better at it, all the while chuckling about Pete’s xeriscaped head.

  2. Living in the Pacific Northwest requires us to prepare for freezing temperature levels throughout the year. Any landscaping we do has to take below freezing temps into consideration. Our water drip systems are most often found on top of the ground and drained or removed for winter. It makes repairs easier as hoses or pipes carrying water are placed much deeper than three inches and covered with soil not rocks. It’s amazing to me the thought that goes into living in different areas of the country.
    My son lived in Phoenix for a few years. When I went to visit I saw things I hadn’t considered before. Your extreme heat requires a vastly different system of living than our cold temps. We humans are wonderfully adaptive and creative.
    The best part of your post today for me, was the post script. I would liked to have been walking behind you when your idea for the cover popped into your head and watched your happy dance. THAT would have made ME smile. As a matter of fact just thinking about it makes me smile….thanks.

    • It took me a few years to adapt to the heat, and it is amazing how we do it. Now, when I get out of my car, the CD automatically comes with me–they warp in the summer. I have “winter car” in which I can leave teaching supplies in the trunk, and “summer car” where the trunk is empty and the back seat contains a canvas bag with a hat, sunscreen, a pair of sandals, a bottle of water. This canvas bag has to come in every time I get home and go back every time I go out. If you are stranded, you can die of heatstroke pretty fast without a place to get out of the sun. Every year, we lose a few tourists in our city mountain parks, who think that hiking is safe in the summer without precautions.

      About that cover–I wish I could share it, but the book projects have to stay in the book for now. I’m soooo excited I figured it out!

  3. In sixth grade I had the only science class I *ever* had (before college) that actually was a science class. All the others were memorization practice led by people who didn’t understand science at all. In that class the question arose “why does water expand when it freezes?” The answer was “I don’t know, let’s see if we can find out.” It took at least a week, during which we rediscovered specific gravity, figured out one way to measure energy over time, theorized that any solid is a frozen liquid, tried and failed to freeze gases (could have done it with better equipment), and began to see the importance of pattern as expressed in crystalline structures. Oh, and managed to get liquid water to a temperature below freezing — while remaining liquid. We didn’t really answer the question though.

    That ice floats is an unusual and pretty interesting thing.

    • And then there is the mystery of the calorie exchange that allows water to freeze and melt at the same temperature. I worried a lot about my pool pump freezing, while not the pool itself, which is too deep. The solution was to keep the water moving, which meant I had water below freezing, but not solidifying in the pool pump. Science rules!

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