We bought a new oscillating sprinkler this week and I’ve assigned it the difficult task of helping me keep the St. Augustine grass alive during the heat of July and August. Now that I’ve used it for a week I realize that I also need a small stationary sprinkler for the side yard. On my shopping list. I suppose a pulsating sprinkler would have solved both problems, but then I wouldn’t be able to relive so many memories of my childhood…and isn’t that the second most important reason to buy a sprinkler?
Yes, the oscillating sprinkler was always my favorite when I was a child. First of all, there was the whole issue of positioning. It was the only type I could move from one section of the lawn to another without walking all the way back to the faucet to turn off the water, and without getting wet if I didn’t want to be wet. Unless I was careless I could wait for the water to spray forward, quickly move the sprinkler, and run away before it reversed. Okay, sometimes it took more than one try, but it was good exercise. Those stationary sprinklers were a pain. I had to turn off the water, move the sprinkler, turn the water back on, and then drag the hose a bit to put it in a slightly better position. Half the time I managed to turn the sprinkler upside down and had to start over. We seldom owned a pulsating sprinkler because they were more expensive than the others. Thank goodness, because that would have added another factor: noise.
The oscillating sprinkler was also my favorite because it was gentle and quiet. The stationary one only created a bit more noise. But the sound of the pulsating sprinkler seemed frenzied and unsettling. That wasn’t the backdrop I wanted for the little green oasis where I read a book and picked flowers. So I was happy to see it reserved for public parks and playgrounds.
Providing water for the lawn was the supposed purpose of our sprinklers, but I don’t think we often lived where the lawn was truly worth the effort or the cost. The real reason to use a sprinkler was to keep us cool! We spent many an hour walking or running through the spraying water. Even the dogs joined us on hot summer days. We could never afford a swimming pool and the water in the irrigation vat was usually frigid, so the lawn sprinkler provided some much needed relief between chores. And if Dad complained about the water running we’d just smile and say, “Mom wants the lawn to be pretty and green!”
I know most people these days prefer sprinkler “systems”. They prefer automatic timers so they don’t even have to turn them on and off. But I like the ritual of hooking up the sprinkler, turning on the faucet, and watching that lovely arch rise into the air. Some days I’m almost tempted to run through it….