Margaret Thatcher said famously, don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions. I read a funny piece in today’s Gleaner about water woes asking what is the Ministry doing, other than beseeching us to conserve water? I’ve asked myself the same question not just on this matter, but on many things overseen by government.
I’ve now been back on the island a week and adjusting to things Jamaican. My wife and daughter have commandeered the master bedroom, blocked off all vents, closed all windows, and cranked up the AC. The room feels like Greenland in December, and I enter wearing a North Face jacket, woolen gloves, heavy socks, and snow shoes, when I go in search of a clean towel. I’m of tougher stuff and bear the heat, slowing down and sweating in my sleep. I wake with no congested head, merely a damp tee shirt.
But, the Eskimos had to take an early flight this morning, and at about 3:30am I heard steps tramping on the landing. I asked my wife if all was good. “If you don’t mind bathing in a bowl, yes,” she replied. I looked at the metal basin by the sink, and remembered that water lock-off applies till about 4. My daughter was trying something different, focusing on wiping only strategic points of her body. They used good amounts of perfume, judging by the trail of fumes I smelled.
Someone joked about saving babies’ tears to bathe with. Last week, I went to the Coconut Board to get my usual three gallons of coconut water. One of the assistants is heavily pregnant. I joked that I was buying the water for my bath. She smiled. I told her not to smirk, because when her baby arrives lock-off could still be operating.
My car was filthy dirty till Friday. I play golf and the course has a spring and pond, which irrigate the course. A man got a bucket of that water and gave my car a bath. I wondered if I could take a few pails of water home. I don’t want a gleaming car: it implies I don’t value water for drinking more than for getting dirt off my car. True, each journey I get nasty dirt on my clothes, and if I want to avoid my wife saying I look like a hobo with dirty clothes, I have to change after I get in and out of my car. But, when I have extra washing, I don’t want the machine running double in a drought. A friend has reconfigured her washing machine so that the waste water goes to her garden. She lives too far away for me to tap onto her waste pipe for my garden. Instead, every little washing in the kitchen gets saved and plants get a little drink several times a day.
I’m taking this drought seriously, so will now keep that waste water in the gallon bottles I have after drinking my coconut water.
If I buy drinking water from Catherine’s Peak, it eases pressure on NWC, at my cost. I see a water bill, for a service that is now far less than it was three months ago. We still pay for services, even if at its minimum. Do I get sent a refund?
I look up at the clouds and again they look dark, as if they will give rain. Hours later, they have gone. The grass stays dry, brittle and brown. I want to cry. I look for a glass to catch my tears. Waste not…