If you’ve been around a half-dozen or so decades as I have and grew up in the Southeastern United States, you will remember a time on a hot summer day when refreshment came in the form of water from a hosepipe.  Some of you also remember the tin cup that hung by the well for everybody to use.  That utensil was disinfected periodically by “wiping it off”.

The hosepipe needed no wiping because as soon as you turned it on, it washed itself.  Besides, the nozzle or open end was usually just laying there in the dirt waiting for you.  If it was a long hosepipe and in the heat of the day, you might let it run for a minute which always afforded opportunity to squirt water on some innocent bystander…such meanness was always good for a laugh, and sometimes a thumping as well.

“Garden hose” is how you might see it labeled today in a hardware store, but don’t be misled by that.  It is a hosepipe: my garden died years ago.

Sprinkling and caring for the lawn is also a dead soldier now that dawgs have moved back in.  A lady in Alabama who keeps many more dawgs and such than I do said her yard was full of holes so that the landscape looked more like an artillery target practice zone than a lawn.  I understand: mine is taking on the likeness of a nuclear test area.

Don’t go into a store asking for hosepipe, or you’ll find yourself on the plumbing isle looking at pieces of lead, brass, and polyvinyl chloride.  A tobacconist would show you a  hookah…which is in a way, a hosepipe.

The term “hosepipe” was originally British.  That it is predominantly Southern here in the states is significant.  If you study dialects and drawls around the country, you will notice that southerners (especially old-family landed gentry types from Richmond, Savannah and Charleston) converse with sounds very similar to old line British aristocracy.

Enunciation requires the lower lip to be stretched downward like an inverted horseshoe allowing the words sliding smoothly from the windpipe to somersault freely over the bottom teeth.  If the teeth are missing, the words can take on the texture of oatmeal…overcooked oatmeal.

People that understand the correctness and proper use of the word hosepipe also have nostalgic feelings about certain foods.  A dear friend once told me that rice was supposed to be white and cooked ’til all the grains stuck together in a continuous spoon-clinging lump.  Then you glob it onto your plate.  What makes it so delicious is a generous portion of gravy made from the grease left over from frying a chicken.  If it isn’t running over the side of the plate, you didn’t put enough on there!

Don’t use the grease from frying the okra to make gravy.  It turns the gravy an unappetizing green color causing small children to think it is a vegetable, and won’t eat it.  I only did that once.  Back in the college days when cash money was just a figure of speech especially right at the end of the month, groceries became whatever you could find.  As it was that one time, the only meat in the house was a bag of freshly-cut okra from somebody’s garden that wasn’t being guarded.

The studious (as you can imagine) roommates in that garage apartment held a congress, and green gravy was banned by constitutional amendment.  I think it was listed in the Bill of Wrongs.

About now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with dawgs.  Some dawgs will play around a sprinkler attached to a hosepipe.  I’ve seen video clips of ’em doing it.  Other dawgs see the hosepipe as an evil device incorporated into the outdoor cold-water bathing & washing procedure.  They associate it with a harsh, foul-smelling soap and want nothing to do with it.  Dawgs of such a mind will walk away if you turn on the hosepipe.

My two dawgs have been looking at my hosepipe, and studying about it for some time now.  The other day it was raining and they didn’t want to wander far out in the yard looking for branches and sticks.  In need of something to chew, the dawgs considered their options among things close to the house. Well, they did it…they ate my hosepipe-fittings, nozzle and all!

The chewed-up parts that they didn’t swallow are scattered around the patio in small enough pieces to pave a tennis court.  There is no benefit in that, because they’ve already eaten every single tennis ball we had.  Why would a carnivorous animal take such a liking to rubber hoses and tires, brass knobs,  wooden handles , and sharp objects made of iron or aluminum when meaty dawg food is available in bowls right next to a couple of big ol’ femur bones from a bull?  I don’t know.

Earlier this morning, I saw Sir Benson Zipper Dee Doo Dah actually chewing a bone.  I’m sure it was to tenderize my heart some, and distract me from serious intentions.  The bone business is a decoy operation.  I know both him and Lila Bea are laying plans to undo the recent repairs we’ve made to the house itself.  I know that, because they have already started.

Technicians worked here for a few days replacing the windows and outside doors.  It was costly, but it offered a promise of reduced heating and cooling bills.  I ran the numbers.  If I live here until I’m 178 years old, we might recoup up to 30% of what we spent on renovations.  The other 70%, as it turns out, must taste like dawg food.  Bits and pieces of vinyl and aluminum trim show up every day thrown about on my patio along with remnants of juniper, azalea, rose bush, hickory, pine, poplar and oak.

I’ve been offered advice.  The advice was that I not leave anything in the yard that I don’t want to be chewed up.  I’m sure they meant well, but it is only good up to a point.  That point being that the house itself sits right smack-dab in the middle of the yard.  I don’t have anywhere else to put it.  The same goes for the trees, and for the ground itself.  The storage options do reach a limit…except in the garage.

The garage is full, but we keep taking things down there, anyway.  I’ve checked the outside walls and they are not bulging.  It must be a magic trick of some kind.  I’m pretty sure that if we were to take everything that is in the garage and place it out in the driveway,  not even half of the same stuff would  even begin to fit back inside.  Maybe there is some law of physics governing that.

Perhaps I shouldn’t concern myself with the notion that the dawgs might chew up my house.  A simple bit of geometry suggests that if the dawgs eat the entire thing, I won’t ever have to let them back inside it again.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by SD on February 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    (from e-mail) I’m hoping that Brenda or some intelligent friend is collecting all your wonderful writing for a book on Southern Living, especially from a certain perspective. You are a veritable fount of information.


  2. My good friend Van,
    You have a wonderful way with words and ideas. I wish I could have seen you in your Mark Twain gig.


  3. Someone needs to invent chewing gum for dogs.


  4. Posted by Bonnie Stewart on February 8, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    I remember the hosepipe and also the spigot that I thought was “spikit” for years.


  5. Posted by Bruce on February 10, 2010 at 11:13 am

    (from e-mail) I remember very well the refreshing, thirst quenching first taste of water from a hosepipe after having ridden what seemed like miles on my bike.


  6. Posted by Mickey Foster on January 9, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Hosepipes and brown paper pokes take to days when my sole concern was to not have to go to the bathroom until I was finished playing. Sometimes, while playing with a hosepipe going to the bathroom was not a serious issue…


  7. Posted by Betty on February 7, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Yep, we had hosepipes, spikits, brown paper pokes, only one pet dog, though.


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