The Gutter Brigade

A few times a year our neighborhood holds semi-obligatory exercises in community building/neighborhood maintenance.  .  Their voluntary insomuch that if you don’t show up, it definitely makes you stick out, which of course, is a horrible thing here in Japan. I think secretly it’s an excuse for the men of the neighborhood to break out the fire hoses and spray water everywhere under the guise of safety.

Our first such experience was in the fall, when we had to join our neighbors in weeding around the trash collection/recycling area.  It was a short affair followed by the neighborhood chief breaking out a box of canned coffee and bottles of tea for us refresh ourselves with.  Followed, naturally, by dragging out the fire hoses, hooking them up to the underground water mains, and making sure everyone knew how to use them in the event of a fire.  Plus some gratuitous spraying.

Today was my second such experience.  I say ‘my’ because Chieko stayed in bed for this one.  This time, we were cleaning out the gutters that run on either side of the road.  This required, first and foremost, hooking up the fire hose.  Then we pulled up the grates that are located every few yards so we could stick the nozzle down into the gutter and blast the dirt/sand/rocks/other debris down the road and eventually into a larger canal at the end of the street.

It was a little awkward since there were about 10 men trying to do a job that 3 or 4 could have handled.  The result being 5 or 6 people assisting in dragging the hose the few feet between each grate, 1 or 2 taking a smoke break, 2 actually handing the business end of the hose, 1 guy turning the water main off and on between blasting sessions, 1 guy jamming a shovel into the grate to move sand along because apparently several hundred pounds of water pressure couldn’t quite get the job done, and me.  I did some hose moving, a bit of shoveling, took a few pictures, and mostly tried not to get in the way since I wasn’t really sure what the hell was going on.

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If your wondering why our neighborhood has such ready access to fire hose, and isn’t afraid to use it, it comes from one of the little emergency fire stations we have at the end of each block in our neighborhood.  It’s basically a little locker with a 100 yards of so fire hose, a nozzle, and a crow bar type of thing.  In the middle of each road is a manhole that you can open with the crowbar, which you can also use to turn on/off the water main that’s located inside.

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This whole operation took about an hour and a half, which worked out perfectly because right about then was when they were lifting the delay at the Red Sox game.  After a quick trip to the home center to pick up some gardening supplies, I set up the computer speakers in the window and set about listening to the game while tending the vegetables.  My main goal today was to reinforce the tomato plants after they got worked by the wind earlier this week.  I also did some pruning since the plants were getting a little wild looking.

When Chieko’s parents were here a few weekends ago they suggested I make a stronger system for the eggplant and regular tomatoes, so I lashed together beauty of a structure as well.  I’m actually kind of proud of it, and spent a while being self-congratulatory.  The real test will be whether or not Chieko’s parents, the real farmers, approve of my work.

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I did a bit of miscellaneous weeding and pruning before heading inside and taking a little bit of a nap with Chieko.  After waking up the afternoon was a whirlwind of activity.  I love this time of year when the days are longest.  Especially on the weekend, I try to cram as much as I can into the day.  I took a jog, came home and washed the car, then we headed out to the grocery store.

On our way back we took a spontaneous trip out the beach for a very nice sunset.  I need one more day.

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Hope your Sunday is as enjoyable as mine was.

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