Many years ago, just after the turn of the century, I visited WA with my husband on an extended holiday. We were staying at my parents’ house, a place they had lived in since about a year after we had first arrived and in which I spent many happy years myself.
On the first morning, I woke up to find my husband gone, but looking out of the window saw that he was taking in the early morning light in the garden. I sat for a while watching him, a pale Irishman, transplanted to this place of thick hard grass, dull greens, banana trees and a whole different melody of sounds coming from the local wildlife. He was smoking a cigarette and despite the long journey and the time difference, was already beginning to look more relaxed than I had seen him in a while. The smoke curled up through his fingers and floated gently away on the wind.
Then there was a sound.
It started as a gurgling and a bubbling and came from all sides of the back yard. A mechanical snorting that surrounded him. Despite the years of absence, I knew straight away what it was and what was about to happen to him.
As he stood, helpless on the grass, a number of mushroom-shaped heads rose from the ground and started spurting jets of water in all different angles. It was the reticulation, something my husband had never come across but a far cry from the gentle manual sprinklers of the U.K. which worked by being attached to a hose and describing a graceful but highly localized arc of soft water, which you would need to run through a number of times to achieve even dampness.
But this was Australia, and this was reticulation and my husband was drenched in seconds. Australian watering systems to not muck around.
Knowing this, I don’t even know why it took me so long to work out where Lucy had disappeared to this morning while we were walking. She peeled away from me and Archie and headed off on her own towards the rose garden area. Then I saw it: huge jets of water shooting up and across the area. The council had switched the twice-weekly reticulation back on.
There was no point in calling her back, because she was never going to come. She was committed to mischief. Lucy loves reticulation systems and will spend as long as the water is on, trying to catch the jets of water in her mouth. I have no idea why, she is no fan of a bath – but then dogs don’t like it when you blow in their faces but still insist on hanging their heads out of a moving car’s window.
It took me a while for Archie and me to catch up with her, by which time she had pretty much tried each of the sprinklers. As they rotated around their cycle, their distinctive ‘tick tick’ noise called her to a new spout head and eventually the only way to lure her away from the game was to clip on her lead and walk her away.
It seems odd, but over the winter I had completely forgotten about this fascination – or actually let’s call it what it is – obsession that she had. In winter it rains and I get wet. In summer it ticks, and I still get wet. Such is life.