Wanda Strickland was seventy years old when she moved
to Florida from Canada. Nice home with a grassy lawn
overlooking the bay. There was a pool where she could
swim daily to loosen her joints. Pretty gardens lined the
pathway down to the water’s edge. Sunshiny days kept her
outside. Wanda loved her gardens and spent many hours
tending to her gorgeous specimens. The flowers were the
colors of the birds, and the birds were the colors of a
rainbow. The time she spent nurturing her plants kept her
soul happy and her heart free of life’s remorse.
One day her son brought her a wooden rain barrel and
placed it at the gutter to collect the rainwater. Wanda would
fill her watering can and make her rounds every morning.
She added a small vegetable garden that helped reduce her
grocery bill and provided the freshest of produce. She had
been there for a year when a code enforcer came by and
cited her for collecting rain in a barrel.
Several months later, a new county ordinance specified that
all rainwater must divert to the county reservoir. Soon after,
her son came and installed gutters that fed pipes where the
rainwater pumped into the county’s retention ponds. The
county maintained these ponds and more taxes were
required to do this properly.
A few years later, she learned that she was required to place
an impermeable awning system over her lawn and pool
area. These could be purchased as poled tarps from the
county. She had seen these tarps going up around the
neighborhood, but thought people just had problems with
insects that required tarps for fumigation treatments. The
ordinance declared that the awning systems be fitted with
gutters that ran into pipes that fed pumps that filled the
The county began selling the rainwater back to residents in
50-gallon plastic drums for the price of $3.00 a gallon.
Non-rainwater could be purchased through the county utility
company for the price of $5.00 a gallon and piped in as was
customary. The plastic drums were $100.00 a piece but
were recyclable. Rainwater was delivered and pumped into the
plastic drums on Thursdays and Sundays by county
With the growing restrictions, a hue and cry arose against
them. The rally was quickly squelched when authorities claimed
that relaxing the restrictions would eliminate too many jobs
and negatively impact the local economy.
To avoid the water dilemma and cluttering up her lawn with
tarps and pipes, Wanda filled the pool in with soil, removed
all of the grass, and constructed rock gardens. The rocks
were colorful in all shapes and sizes. The gardens artfully
achieved by setting the stones to create beautiful
It was only a matter of weeks after the construction was
completed when the code enforcer appeared again. The
latest restrictions called for including at least two-thirds of
your lot size as a grass-covered lawn. Also, to appease local
corporate farmers, no produce was permitted to be grown on the
Wanda loaded her personal effects and moved back to Canada.
A retired Registered Nurse, S.K. Nicholls lives in Florida with her husband. She is the author of two books: Red Clay and Roses, a story of a group of characters grappling with inequality in the Deep South, and Naked Alliances, an adventurous Central Florida crime romp. When she isn’t writing, she can be found in city parks battling legendaries and hanging out with the homeless, making jewelry, touring theme parks with her four lovely grandchildren, painting in her studio, or sipping margaritas on the bow of a boat.
Show S. K. some love via PayPal at gdnicholls1(at)gmail(dot)com.