Our yard never looked better than this year. The peonies, azaleas and rhodies really outdid themselves.
Then the rain stopped. Did I panic and begin irrigating? No, no, no. I practiced lessons learned during the drought years: I waited.
More dry days passed. The lawn sprouted brown spots.
I relented only a little bit and began hand-watering our raspberries. Out of profound love, I deprive them of nothing.
Only last weekend — six months since we last irrigated the yard — did I activate our full network of PVC pipes and controllers.
But first a chore that Cheryl and I both hate: We had to test all the lines.
I can’t explain why, but somehow between one irrigation season and the next everything goes to hell. Sprinkler heads clog or fall off. Lines snap for no apparent reason.
My job is to point this out to Cheryl. Her job is to fix everything.
We spent all of last Saturday working on irrigation issues. There were geysers shooting up six feet. Because of the wet winter, my precious raspberries had grown all jungly, smothering the tiny spray heads.
A professional might have fixed everything in an hour or two. Not us.
First there was the Saturday morning trip to Central Valley to pick through bins of sprinkler parts. To the uneducated eye — mine — every part pretty much looked the same.
Back at home, my primary task was to turn controllers on and off so Cheryl, wearing what would soon become a wet suit, could zero in on the bad actors.
Working her way down a major line, she encountered weeds that needed pulling and trees and shrubs that needed pruning. She reveled in this mission creep.
During these interludes, I’d abandon the controllers to attend to small chores. I washed my car windows and vacuumed the interior. I ate lunch. I called up my bro.
By mid-afternoon Cheryl had water flowing to the far end of the line, bringing the promise of extended life to a struggling weigela.
Were we done? We were not. There was The Mound where another geyser and five badly aligned spray heads needed attention.
This was our Saturday. Our entire Saturday, if you don’t count watching “Manchester by the Sea,” our downbeat evening’s entertainment.
This seems so wrong, I told Cheryl. Half a weekend wiped out and for what? Irrigation!
Spring repairs bring summer pleasure, Cheryl replied. As responsible homeowners, do we really have a choice?
I suggested we devote Sunday to fun. Let’s salvage a piece of the weekend.
Cheryl looked at me as if I were crazy. With all we have yet to do around this place, I’m suggesting a day of leisure?
I apologized. What was I thinking?
Sunday developed into a major work day. The fence torn down two years ago for our home reconstruction project needed replacing. The rear lawn, abandoned during the drought, needed weed whacking.
Every time I tried to dig a post hole, I hit something bad. Major elm roots. Old concrete. Even an ancient iron pipe, prompting the question: Should I shut down the project and call PG&E?
I didn’t. I moved my hole.
My first hole was a whopper, requiring three bags — 150 pounds — of Qwikrete mix to set the redwood post. A pro would have needed one bag.
During the pour, a cloud of Qwikrete dust enveloped Cheryl who was hunched over, steadying the post.
This inhaled dust was worrisome. Would Cheryl be left with a concrete-lined trachea?
And that, folks, was our weekend.
Elsewhere in Napa, people bicycled, wine tasted, barbecued and maybe snuck in a quick cappuccino. Those people were not us.