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The Farthermost View

Essays and Stories




Coiled Hose


I used to think that I was a fairly empathetic person, and that while I may disagree with someone's actions, I support her psychological need to do something stupid. As I age, however, I find out all sorts of things about myself, and one of them is that I am not a particularly empathetic person. I may realize that a person has certain needs and desires, but I do not understand them, and I do not support her stupid actions.


Take, for example, the wearing of masks during a pandemic. Why on earth is that even a question?


Who in their right mind refuses to wear a little cotton gizmo that might prevent their terrible illness and death? What makes a person think that it's so important for them to spew their opinions and saliva into the atmosphere unimpeded by a piece of cloth?


Since when does the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness include spreading disease and misery among your neighbors?

(Wait, don't answer that one.)


My point is, I just don't get it. Are these people callous, ignorant, or just stupid?


Here's another thing. When I started writing this, the Cape had just been declared to be in a Level 2, or Significant, drought. In fact, Cape Cod and the Islands are experiencing "conditions akin to a 'flash drought' which is a rapid onset drought with decreased precipitation, above normal temperatures, and incoming radiation resulting in abnormally high evapotranspiration, all combining to increase fire danger and decrease crop moisture levels."


Governor Baker (no relation) has asked residents to be very mindful of the amount of water they are using, to be proactive (I think this means being active before you're active) in reducing or eliminating outdoor water use, to reduce indoor water use, and to address plumbing leaks as soon as possible.


It's a fairly important issue, because the entire Cape has just one source of water. Single Source Aquifer is the official term; the Environmental Protection Agency defines it as an aquifer that 1) supplies at least 50 percent of the drinking water for its service area, and 2) for which there are no reasonably available alternative drinking water sources should the aquifer become contaminated. Or, presumably, dry up.


Not only does the Cape Cod Aquifer fit that definition, it is a Super-single Source Aquifer (that's my terminology), because it supplies 100% of our water. Think about it. In the summer half a million people are drinking, bathing, and flushing from one well, and that well is refilled by – wait for it – rain !

Limiting nonessential outdoor watering is one of the most effective ways to minimize the impacts of drought on water supply and the environment. Remember No Relation Governor Baker's request to be proactive?


Some people seem to think that request doesn't apply to them. I don't know about the plumbing leaks and washing machines, but I do know that when Pippin and Thurber, the Rescue Squad, and I walk through the neighborhood on these warm summer mornings, some of the lawns look as if a Level 2 drought hit them. These are versions of the Cape Cod Lawn: green when it rains, brown when it doesn't.


But some lawns sparkle like fresh-washed emeralds in the morning light, and although it might be from dew, a big hint that it isn't is the wet pavement and the little streams of water flowing away from them down the street.


These are Cape Cod Idiot lawns.


One Cape Crusader, Andrew Gottlieb, executive director of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, says extreme conditions like the dry summer are reflective of what was predicted with climate change. He was quoted in the Cape Cod Times as saying, "This (drought) points to the likely future we are going to be living in. We are counseling that public water supplies are a limited and finite resource, and utilization of water on lawns and ornamental plantings is an unsustainable and insane use of the resources."


So what does the refusal to wear a mask during a pandemic have to do with watering a lawn during a drought?


Oh, think about it. Just try thinking.

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