Desert dwellers are known to dance in the rain – especially when it’s been a long dry spell, but those of us who live off-grid, i.e. on solar power and water catchment probably dance a little more joyfully than those who live with grid electricity and “city” water. We become absolutely giddy while watching the clouds build up and dance like no one is watching when they actually open up with rain. Had you asked me twenty years ago if I would ever live off-grid, I wouldn’t have even understood what that meant. I’ve since found out that off-grid living doesn’t mean living a life of deprivation, but it does mean taking a seriously hard look at how you use electricity and water. It means that your refrigerator is probably going to run on propane – although that is changing as refrigerators become more efficient, using LED bulbs for lighting, turning out lights when you leave the room, and turning off the TV if you’re not watching it. It makes you think about what you really need and what you don’t. For example, I have a blender that I use on a regular basis, but do I really need an electric can opener when a manual one works just as well, and maybe better? Do I need a Keurig when my French press makes great coffee? These are things we should probably all be thinking about whether we’re on grid or off.
For me, where the rubber hits the off-grid road is with water. The only water available to use – for household use, gardening, etc., is what you catch off of the roof, although I do admit that I purchase most of my drinking water. You conserve water by doing things like turning off the shower while soaping up, not leaving the water running while brushing your teeth or washing dishes, and you want to catch every drop of rain you possibly can to store for future use. So the other night when I was getting a pretty good rain, but didn’t hear the distinctive sound of water running into my tanks, I panicked. Something was very wrong and needed to be quickly fixed. But what was it? I went outside to investigate and realized that the storm the night before had loosened my downspout pipe and I wasn’t catching any more water. It was all running down the outside of the pipe instead of into my tanks, and that was no bueno. I probably missed out on catching about 400 gallons of water, so early the next morning, I was up on the roof reattaching the downspout pipe and sealing any potential leak that I could find. Water is precious anywhere, but especially in the desert where you may only get 10 inches of rain per year. We have large porches, not just for shade, but to provide for more water catchment. Water is life, and living on water catchment has made me hyper aware of how much we, as a society, waste one of our most precious resources. So the next time clouds build up and rain threatens, don’t think of it as rain ruining your day. Think of it as a gift of life, and get out and celebrate those clouds and dance in the rain.