The Gift

“Just what are you doing?  Why are you cutting that perfectly good five-gallon bucket?  What are you making?”

“Questions!  Questions! Questions!  Why not wait to see?”  My husband quipped.

Impatiently, I watched as he cut the bottom from the bucket.  It was one of many left over from building our new home, but five-gallon buckets can be used for so many things, and they are hard to come by.

He continued to sever the white bowl from its towering sides. With his special jigsaw, he cut it carefully and precisely along the border he had penciled. Then, with his metal file, he smoothed the rough edges left by his cutwork.  He ran his aging hands over and over the cliffs until he could feel no more roughness.

The next thing I knew, he was marching out the garage door holding the dish he had made tenderly in his arms.  He made a sharp turn around the shell of our retirement home to a pipe protruding from our water supply.  It was above an indentation he had made in the softened ground.

“I noticed we have quite a few desert visitors, and I thought they might get thirsty.  Besides, this connection drips at just the right pace to keep this filled.”


Day after day, the creatures came.  First, it was the sparrows, thirsty from their nourishing visit to our bird feeder on the other side of the house.  Then, the cottontails dipped their little lips to the cool drink.   Soon, the quail coveys paused in their rapid dash across the harsh ground.

One day, there was a little quail form in the water.  I opened the door and  ran to rescue the little one, but I was just not quick enough.  My “St. Francis” husband installed a little green fence netting held by miniature boulders so that even the tiniest creature could drink safely.

Did I say “drink?”  Now, the sparrows, chickadees, and finches use this small white basin for their weekly bath.  They flitter around, shooing off their companions with water pellets, or taking turns hopping into the drink, testing the temperature.

It seems even a mystery guest under our deck has discovered the convenience of the water works.  I suspect it is that pesky raccoon who washes left over pumpkin pieces gathered from our patch.

My husband is gone now, but the desert dwellers continue to seek “the gift” of his making before they continue their trek across the mountains and deserts of the high country.

There are more five-gallon buckets, but the one cut off and buried in the ground is the most appreciated by the creatures–and I, who derive so much pleasure from witnessing their antics.


















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