On waterfalls and wildlife

backyard waterfall

One of my favorite features of my backyard is broken. Our waterfall, which Jim — primary caretaker of the falls — likes to keep running through each and every season (despite it freezing for the most part during winter seasons), hasn't been running for several seasons now.

Because it's broken. Has a leak. Somewhere. Somehow.

Jim and I plan to spend much of Saturday figuring out the where and the how — and the what we need to do to fix it.

Taking apart the waterfall and putting it all back together again will surely be a pain in the butt. We don't look forward to it.

We do, though, look forward to once again having water streaming and splashing. We miss the sound, the peace, the tranquility of the special spot just off our patio.

Despite our reluctance to remove and replace liners and rocks and such, the special spot needs to be fixed. Not only to fulfill our...

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Weekend projects

When Jim and I bought our current house nearly five years ago, the oddball place boasted many, um, unique features. One was what the folks we bought it from called an "antique lemonade stand."

A couple weeks ago as I sat in the backyard, with that eyesore lemonade stand in full view, I considered how we might go about tearing it down and putting something cool in its place. Then I came up with a brilliant idea: I would turn that lemonade stand into a food stand for Bubby and Baby Mac to play with when they visit. They got a kick out of the mock restaurant and ice cream stand at the children's museum recently, so I imagined they'd be delighted with a similar plaything at Gramma's.

With that in mind, I purchased some vintage signs, bought a few gallons of paint, hosed down the antique stand, and made its transformation my project for the long Memorial Day weekend.

With help from Brianna, that old antique lemonade stand went from this:

To this:

All spiffed up and ready for me to stock with an OPEN/CLOSED sign, a bell to ding for service, and plastic delights. The food stand will be ready for business by the time Bubby and Baby Mac arrive near the end of June. Plus, I have plenty of paint left over to transform our old outdoor dining set into the perfect spot for food stand customers to enjoy their treats.

I was right in thinking Bubby will love it. When I texted photos of the stand to Megan to share with Bubby, this was her response:

"B said to me (after seeing the pictures), 'I want you to sit down at one of the chairs and after you can come up to the food stand and tell me what you want. And then you can come up to the ice cream place and pick your flavor! I think you want strawberry." :) Nice work, sounds like a busy day!"

She was right, too. It was a busy day, a busy weekend, actually. Not just because of the food stand, though, and not just for me.

Jim had a weekend project of his own—finding the leak in our backyard waterfall. The mysterious leak continually caused the water level to fall and our water bill to rise as we had to fill the feature daily to keep it functioning last summer. Jim's job was a much bigger job than mine, so Brianna and I lent a helping hand with that one, too.

Between the three of us, our backyard waterfall went from this:

To this:

No more leaks!

Two big projects knocked out in one long weekend.

Jim and I agree: We are so glad the long weekend is over so we can finally relax!

Today's fill-in-the-blank:

I'm glad the long weekend is over because ________.

For the birds

We have a small waterfall in our back yard. All summer long it gurgles and burbles and lends a small portion of peace to our place smack dab in the flight path of the airport and mere blocks from one of the busiest traffic corridors in the city.

I love the waterfall. At summer's end, I lament the loss of the trickles of tranquility as the water is shut off, the pump put away for the winter. And winter has indeed come to my part of the mountains, despite the calendar saying it's still fall.

Yes, it's time to put the waterfall to bed for the season.

But Jim is rebelling this year, refusing to shut 'er down. He loves the waterfall more than I, spends more time fiddling with the rocks, the water flow, the chemicals to keep it clean, the daily clearing out the leaves and needles. And more time admiring 'the heads' he mounted at the top of the waterfall.

(If you read this post, you understand the significance of the 'the heads' in our lives. Despite the significance, I still groan regularly about Jim placing a miniature version of the national memorial -- courtesy of the darn Sky Mall catalog -- in our yard.)

So with temperatures falling well below freezing every night -- and during some days, too -- the little waterfall that could does ... keep flowing. Which I think is really stupid.

"What a waste of electricity," I say to my (usually) utility bill-obsessed husband, thinking that'll do the trick, show him how irresponsible and expensive it is to run the waterfall all winter. He just ignores me.

"You're going to burn out the motor," I keep telling him. It won't fully freeze up because the water's moving, he responds, adding, "And it'll look so cool when it freezes around the edges. Remember the one time it did that?"

Yeah, I remember. But it was a freak freeze, and we shut down the waterfall right after that.

Jim continues ignoring me, the water continues flowing and I continue thinking my husband's a nutjob.

Tuesday morning I let the dogs out and glanced over at the waterfall. It had frozen all around the edges, leaving only a small stream flowing down the rocks and a little tiny pool at the bottom. And in the stream and the pool were several birds, merrily splashing away, thrilled by their luck at finding fresh flowing water when all the birdbaths in the city surely were frozen.

It was a delightful sight. And once the birds flew off -- frightened away by Lyla and Mickey dashing out for their morning potty break -- the nearly frozen fall remained chillingly magical.


Much to my chagrin, I had to admit Jim was right. Just like the last time the waterfall froze, the icy sculpture definitely did look so cool.

Consider my tongue bitten. I'll back off cussing about the waterfall. I'll stop trying to convince Jim that not shutting it down for the winter is a really dumb idea. The water can flow, I guess, and I'll keep my mouth shut.

But I'm only agreeing to let it flow for the sake of the birds.

And in hopes that next time I'll be able to snap a few shots of the birds enjoying the unexpected deep-winter delight before the dogs frighten them away.

Holiday question of the day:

If you were to create and market an ice cream available only during the Christmas season, what flavor(s) would your concoction be?