One fine late Spring morning Mr. H mowed his front and back yards with pleasure. The rainy week before had greened everything up, including the neglected back yard he had just fertilized before it rained. The grass was moist and pliable and the ground soft enough that he could easily pull the dandelions as he pushed the mower to and fro. After sweeping up the clippings and blowing away the remaining dust, he felt very satisfied, so he went inside to do some internet website work an impatient client was eagerly awaiting.
The website work went smoothly and in a few hours Mr. H sent the completed files to his happy client. Mr. H cooked up some vegetables for an early dinner and felt upbeat enough that he started the front yard's automatic sprinklers, hoping to discover why there were some brown areas in the grass. The sprinkler timer is set to water the lawn in the very early morning, while everyone is sleeping, so Mr. H doesn't usually see the sprinklers running. While the first system was running with all sprinklers spraying as expected, he had a short chat with Mrs. L next door about lawns and sprinklers and mowing. The first system shut off and the second system came on but there were no sprinklers popping up! Mr. H went and looked at the first two sprinklers, by the street, which were bubbling with water but not popping up. Mr. H looked at the center of the lawn, where it was the greenest and thickest, and saw no water at all. Curious!
As Mr. H neared the place where the sprinkler should have been, his bare feet started sloshing in the thick grass. Crouching and pressing the surface with his hands, Mr. H's hands and fingers got wet and he found the sprinkler, which had a solid mat of grass grown over it. Mr. H pulled some of the grass away and wiggled the sprinkler and then pulled it out of the grass with no effort at all! It had broken where it attached to the underground water pipe. This may have happened when Mr. H's other neighbor's friend had ridden his motorcycle across the yard a while back because he was too lazy to turn the heavy machine around in Mr. C's driveway properly. Mr. H had noticed the rut in the grass from the bike's wheel a few days later, but it had vanished after a couple of weeks, so Mr. H hadn't been very angry about it..
Mr. H hurried to his garage and got out some pliers and a trowel and a spade and his box of spare sprinkler parts. Mrs. C's black and white cat Two-Socks and the all-white cat who lives in Mr. H's back yard were hanging around, ready for their evening snack. They were frightened when Mr. H pulled the big garage door open with a creak, but they didn't run very far away. Mrs. C and her family know Two-Socks as 'Fozzy', but that was just his kitten-name. With his black legs and white front paws 'Two-Socks' is how the other cats know him, and he's won enough scraps that his adult name has another meaning too. Mr. H calls the white cat 'Bedo', which is short for 'Albedo', which is a scientific term for the reflectivity of a planet or other object in space. Something that is pure white has the highest albedo there is so that's how Bedo got his name. "Snacktime will be soon." Mr. H told told Two-Socks and Bedo, and he returned to the front yard.
Reaching into the sprinkler-hole, which had a steady flow of water coming out, but was not spraying comically, Mr. H could feel a large open area where the flowing water had removed the soil beneath the grass. "I hope there's nothing living under there that bites!" thought Mr. H, but he only saw some wet earthworms wiggling about. Mr. H did not have a complete sprinkler assembly to replace the broken one with, but using some parts he'd bought as spares and parts he'd saved from other broken sprinklers he was able to put together a complete replacement. As he began screwing the sprinkler into the water pipe connection, the change in pressure pushed against the sprinkler and made the other sprinklers on the line pop up and spray a bit. Mr. H got sprayed with water from the repaired sprinkler, but he did not mind because the day was warm and he was wearing 'yard work' clothes anyway.
The sprinkler wasn't popping up properly, so Mr. H removed it and reassembled it and put it back and then used the small screwdriver on his Swiss Army knife to adjust the spray. Since this sprinkler was in the middle of the yard it sprayed in all directions at once and Mr. H got thoroughly soaked. This was comical indeed. He'd solved the yard's brown spot problem and the cool water felt good, so he just chuckled and moved the cardboard box of spare parts out of range of the sprinkler.
By then that system's time was through and the last system started up. There were a couple of grown-over sprinklers on that line as well, but otherwise all was working properly. Mr. H gathered his tools and spare parts and put them away. The cats froze again when the big door creaked as Mr. H closed it. Mr. H felt very good about his productive day.
"Snacktime Bedo! Snacktime Two-Socks!" called Mr. H and the two hungry cats did a quick dance around Mr. H's feet as he carried the cat food to their bowls near the garage. Mr. H went in to put the bag away, reminding himself to go back outside to make sure little Bedo got his fill before any of the other neighborhood cats, who had homes and people to feed them, showed up to try and have a snack too. In the kitchen Mr. H noticed that he hadn't done the dishes from his light supper, so he quickly washed the pan and the spatula and the bowl and the fork. While he was drying his hands he looked out the door and saw that Fifty-fifty, the big orange and white tomcat from somewhere behind Mr. H's house, was eating while Bedo looked on from a few feet away. Fifty-fifty knows he eats at home, so when Mr. H opened the screen door Fifty-fifty started heading for the back of the back yard, and not very quickly.
Mr. H followed at a similarly calm pace - cats are cats and there's no sense putting on a display of anger when they're just being cats, no Mr. McGregor he. Fifty-fifty hopped up onto the back wall and behind a bush, thinking he could wait there until Mr. H left, then go back for more food. Mr. H was passing his backyard faucet, so he opened the spigot and grabbed the hose and pulled it along to the wall to give Fifty-fifty a quick spray to send him on his way. Fifty-fifty was off the wall and into the back neighbor's yard so fast he might not have been hit by a single drop!
Mr. H called to Bedo and told him to go on eating and Bedo did just that. Two-Socks had never stopped eating, but Two-Socks is a tough old bird, err, cat. Mr. H noticed that he was near the big stump of the old plum tree and thought he'd give it some extra water.
The plum tree had been in the yard for many many years and had produced a lot of plums. Great juicy purple plums perfect for making jam and great to eat right off the tree when they ripened in late June each year. The base of the stump was wide and had large lumps and interesting bumps. The tree was so old that each of the major upper branchings from the trunk had died in the last few years and Mr. H had cut them away just above the main trunk. The stump looked like it had four short arms reaching up toward the sky, the tallest one ending at just about the top of Mr. H's head. There was a hole a few feet up the side of the old stump that seemed to lead to a hollow core. Overall the plum tree stump looked a little like a scary tree from a Halloween story, but to Mr. H it was an old friend with a lot of character.
Sadly, two years ago only a thin branch had had some leaves, and there were no plums. Last year the branch got thicker, but still no plums. This year there were a few dozen plums on the single thick branch, which was leaning over and almost touching the ground, like Charlie Brown's sad little Christmas tree with the single ornament on it. Mr. H decided to give the plucky plum tree a good drink and he stuck the end of the hose, which he was still holding, into the hole in the side of the tree trunk.
Mr. H walked around the plum tree to see if any water flowed out, but he didn't see any anywhere. The water flowed and flowed into the stump and Mr. H wondered how much the big tree stump could hold. He could hear the water gurgling into the stump, and he was fairly certain he could hear the notes of the gurgles get higher in pitch as the remaining space slowly got smaller. Mr. H moved the hose slightly to see if that made any difference when suddenly there was movement in the hole. Mr. H stepped back half a step, not wanting to get sprayed with water again so soon.
A fairly large lizard squeezed out around the hose and stopped half-way out of the hole when he saw Mr. H! Mr. Lizard was soaked from snout to tail and perfectly motionless as he eyed Mr. H, knowing that Mr. H surely had something to do with the flooding of his home. Mr. H murmured an apology and carefully, after warning Mr. Lizard, removed the hose from Mr. Lizard's doorway. Mr. Lizard didn't move a single lizard muscle. Mr. H shut the water off and walked back to the plum tree stump to find that Mr. Lizard still hadn't moved at all. Mr. H looked at Mr. Lizard and felt a little bad for him, since he was sure that Mr. Lizard had been quite busy tending to the upkeep of his tree stump home on this fine late Spring day.