One of My Favorite Beers of the Year

I grew up in Western Oregon where the ever-present rain makes a sprinkler system unnecessary. When I moved to Southern Idaho and the desert, I was ecstatic to have a sprinkler system. I loved adjusting them and figuring out how to bring the rain to the desert. I still love watching my sprinklers do their work. Getting up early on a too-be-hot summer’s day and watching the sprinklers do what they do, bringing water and cool to the world, is a form of fatherly meditation unmatched in suburbia.

The irrigation district turned the irrigation water on today. This is one of my spring-time Rites of Passage. It was 66 degrees, bright blue skies, and the sun had the feel of t-shirts and shorts.

One of my favorite beers of the year is the one when I de-winterize the sprinklers. After I turn the main valve close to the street, I start cycling through my six zones, making sure all the lines are pressurized and holding water. I walk around the house for about 10 minutes, back and forth to the sprinkler control box, just listening to the water shooting and spooshing the air out of its way. I quickly look for any massive leaks or problems. Each zone only runs for about a minute or two. During this time yesterday, my neighbor Sean walked by and yelled, “that’s one of the best beers of the year!” He’s not wrong and titled this essay for me.

During this new normal as we all do more work around our houses than we want to, I needed something normal and fun. I had forgotten how much I look forward to de-winterizing my sprinkler system. After Sean yelled at me, I slowed down and tried to be in the moment and not be on auto-pilot. I also decided that this one beer job had just grown to a two beer job.

I cycled the control box back to Zone 1 and made a deal with myself. I was going to watch every drop of water from every sprinkler from every zone. I was going to walk around in shorts and no shoes and adjust each sprinkler. I was going to slowly enjoy walking around my yard rather than rush to get a job done. I grabbed another Corona and prepared to make my plan a reality.

Zone 1 ran like a champ. No problems, hardly any sprinklers needed adjusted, and I just stood and thought long thoughts. I had my green-handled sprinkler tool, a lot like a screwdriver, in my pocket. As I adjusted sprinklers, I would forget to look for the others and catch a good shot of sprinkler water as the sprinklers cycled through their hunt. It caused me to jump, cuss, and laugh, all at the same time. The sun felt good on my shoulders. The grass looked greener than it was. The birds sang a little clearer than they did.

Zone 2 and Zone 3 have four broken hunter sprinkler heads. For whatever reason, they have decided to stop working. I went inside and ordered a four-pack off Amazon and noted that on Saturday, I will be digging up some sprinklers and making the hunters hunt again. My sprinkler system is 15 years old and it seems like every spring I have a few more sprinklers to replace.

Zones 4 through 6 worked great. I had to adjust where a couple of sprinklers were spraying and a few of the filters needed cleaning since the first irrigation water of the year always clogs some. Other than that, I stood on the sidewalk, just watching the water shoot across my yard. I watched my Chocolate Lab, Diesel, be more excited than me for all this water shooting randomly out of the ground. He loves water and this is one of his favorite days, too. If you haven’t watched a dog play in the sprinklers, you haven’t seen true joy in a while.

I spent a couple of hours outside, watching water hit the grass yesterday and it was awesome. It was a normal task that I have always kind of enjoyed but with all the chaos in the world, I needed it. I am glad I recognized how much I liked this ritual and was able to slow down and pay attention.

There is a lesson here for us as we navigate a world where we are supposed to stay home. If we are supposed to avoid our friends and extended family right now, we need to look for the small pieces of gold that we tend to overlook when the world is running at Mach Holy Shit. We need to find ways to look at the world we have in front of us. How many of us have complained that we just needed things to slow down? Here is our chance.

Normally, I would be irritated at needing to replace sprinkler heads on my only weekend to get stuff done around the house. I need to be thankful for Amazon Prime shipping getting me those sprinklers quickly and having the time to dig up a couple sprinkler heads in the sunshine and enjoy a beer or two.

Written by: NathanWhite