I found myself barefoot on a hot summer day with my friend McLean, playing with a hose, spraying each other with water or forming little streams in the driveway. We ran around the house, inventing things to do with running water, and eventually found ourselves climbing through the window into my mother’s greenhouse, dragging the hose behind.
As we stepped on the dirt floor, dust began to rise. It was even hotter in the greenhouse than outside, but we crawled in anyway, looking for a new place to flood. We left the hose hanging through the window and watched as a miniature river formed. Eventually the river became a lake, and began spreading toward the lower area of the greenhouse, and out, across the floor.
“My mom’s flowers are gonna drown,” I said. “Go turn off the water!”
“No, no, wait,” McLean replied. “We don’t need to. We can save the plants.” He dropped to his knees and began building a dam out of dirt.
A moment later the water hit his creation and it collapsed. I began running frantically around, looking for something to build a more sturdy dam as McLean tried to hold the water back with his hands. “Lets pick up the plants and put them up on the shelf,” I suggested.
“No, we can do this. Just find me something to hold back the water.”
Digging around the potted plants and gardening equipment I started finding stones or pieces of wood and handed them to him and he tried to fit them together to form a blockage in the flow of water. He succeeded for a short time, but again, the water overwhelmed his creation. I soon dropped to the ground and helped. We worked together on another dam of mud and wood, this one right against the first of the potted plants and actually managed to hold off the water.
Our triumph did not last long. The stream split in two directions and threatened more of the plants around the greenhouse. We each took one stream and attempted to protect the plants in their paths. We worked frantically, using anything we could to block the flow of water. Eventually one of us had the idea of putting something under the pots to raise them up and get them out of the flow. We found blocks of wood and bricks, but soon ran out. We had to start tearing down our dams to use the material to lift the pots. This allowed the water to flow freely, and we had to race even faster to stay ahead of it.
As the water continued to spread, we ran out of material. We stood up and stared at each other, completely out of options. “What do we do now?” I asked, praying he had another idea.
McLean stared, and after a moment, his face brightened. He clapped his hands and pointed at the hose. “We can just pull it back out,” he said.
Of course! Just pull the hose out the window. I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t thought of it. I took a step toward the window, but stopped, suddenly feeling cheap. This is cheating. The hose is beyond my control, I thought. I shouldn’t be thinking about touching it.
I stood, squishing mud between my toes and an idea came to mind. I turned back and said, “Lets stack the plants on top of each other. That’ll keep them out of the river.”
“Good idea.” And we set to work stacking the pots in such a way that the plants were not crushed. We could not stack them more than two high and always needed a base of at least two, so it didn’t make things much easier, but it gave us a new sense of hope. There were still plants getting wet, but each time we saved them in time, either stacking them on others and getting them above the water or moving them to the small area that was still dry. We didn’t think about putting any of them up on the shelf.
When the water had completely covered the floor of the greenhouse and it looked as though there would be a few flowers that we could not save, I had the idea of going outside the greenhouse and finding blocks of wood to use. I climbed out the window, over the hose, accidentally kicking it out. Without thinking about it, I picked it up and placed the hose back in the window and let it continue flooding the room. I scanned the area and found several items that would work as stilts. I began picking up blocks of wood, boards, rocks, and a plastic basket, and handed them through the window to McLean, who used them to lift the endangered plants out of the water.
I climbed back in and helped stack the pots on top of the items I had found and after several minutes, we had all of the plants out of the water. I stood up in the deepest area, the water climbing up my ankles and we screamed in triumph. We had defeated the flood. It would be a long time before the water reached any of our plants. We’d won.
Several moments later, my mother came through the door that led into the house and let out her own cry. She bolted back out again and turned off the water.
“Look Mom,” I said when she returned, “we saved your flowers. You don’t have to worry. We rescued them from the flood.”