Thursday, July 14, 2005

Mom's swale

Do you know what a swale is?

If not, look at these pictures. Many nice swales illustrated there.

But if you aren't familiar with swales, you really shouldn't pretend that you are.

What a revelation, when I first realized that people can spout a total line of bull while sounding convincingly authoritative! I had blithely assumed that all the assertive people I encountered were, if not always tactful, at least sincere.

I'd finally reached a point in my college career - after changing majors, dropping out, getting married, starting back to school, changing schools, getting divorced, and changing schools again - where I knew a few things. Not a lot. But a few things.

An older student was was speaking aloud in class, when it suddenly dawned on me that I knew more than he did about the subject at hand. He was wrong. But he sure sounded like he knew what he was talking about.

The proverbial scales fell from my eyes. People who speak in a confident tone don't always know what they're talking about!

Mom's yard has always had drainage issues. Over the years, various fixes have resulted in only partial relief.

In years past, Mom would probably have built her own swale. You may remember how resourceful and independent she is. But she's had some health problems lately, so Mom asked her yard man if he could build her a swale.

"Yep sure no problem," the yard man assured her.


I think he's got his swales mixed up with his trenches.

But he sure sounded like he knew what he was talking about.

23 comments:

Sharfa said...

That's funny.

Hick said...

Okay...I admit it. We have country "swales" like the one in the picture (the link you provided), but I always called them ditches. Now, I can impress all my city friends and refer to them as swales. (Sounds kinda like a combination of swallows and whales...but I don't think that would work out very well.)

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Well, that's the first time I've ever come across that word. Swale. I looked at all the pictures. I'm not sure I get what a swale is and if it differs from a gully or a ditch. Swale is sure a swell word, though!

Anonymous said...

That's all he did?

Wayne said...

Sorry - "that's all he did" was me. Sometimes I post faster than blogger can keep up!

Watchmania said...

Heheh. I live in South Wales, which some people abbreviate to Swales. And here between the Black Mountains and the sea it's certainly like living in an actual swale.

roger said...

that's a swale ditch, he said confidently and with great authority..

Anvilcloud said...

Shoot, I thought that swale was just the southern way of saying swell.

pablo said...

Just like with Hick, out here in Missouri we call them ditches. I've seen the term "swale" used in various ways. A low part of the road in Roundrock allows water to flow over it sometimes. The builder called that a swale. The long depressions in the fields (still around!) left by the hundreds of wagons departing from Kansas City on the Santa Fe Trail have also been called swales.

What that builder did for your mother is carve a nice erosion-worthy cattle trail. It may move the water, but the water will take along a lot of that exposed earth with it. Maybe you could bury a perforated pipe in there?

Anonymous said...

Her yard is pretty. Since he did a trench, maybe the fix is to do a french drain (perforated pipe inside a mesh sleeve surrounded by gravel and covered with dirt and eventually her nice grass again)

Jenn said...

Lord! That's not even a ditch! That's what we used to draw in the sandbox with our finger when we were playing with the hose.

I certainly hope she didn't pay him, and if she did, I certainly hope she puts up a very calm commentary to the Better Business Bureau that this particular fellow needs VERY SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS, preferably in writing and with drawings to further illustrate what is wanted...

That's a very sad sight to see. A 12 inch wide by 12 inch deep line in the sand.

Niobium said...

We call them "culverts" in NH. But I don't know if I spelled that right.

said: "kull-vert"

Sometimes they are refered to as a ditch. In eastern MA, where I grew up, they're called sidewalk gutters.

jenni said...

this is priceless:

"The proverbial scales fell from my eyes. People who speak in a confident tone don't always know what they're talking about!"

cookie jill said...

Swale was a grand racehorse who died way before his time....

http://www.freewebs.com/whp/gonetoosoon.html

yllstonewolf said...

there is a truly valuable lesson contained herein!

Dave said...

"People who speak in a confident tone don't always know what they're talking about!" Very true. Unfortunately, there are very few people as perspicacious as yourself, so the confident-sounding people continue to run roughshod over everyone else. Not to get all political here, but it's not hard to think of a few examples in the White House, Department of Defense, etc. (Incidentally, I don't count myself among the perspicacious, but the confident. So I know whereof I speak. Trust me.)

Rurality said...

Well besides being a race horse (I'd forgotten about that!), a swale is a sort of wide shallow ditch that's part of the landscape. It is a depression in the yard that directs water... it blends in with the surroundings. You could fall into a ditch or a gulley, but not a swale... the sides are not steep. Maybe the term is not in as general use as I'd thought.

But I'm sure none of you would've pretended to know what it was if you didn't! :)

Anyway, yeah that's all he did. It's not wide - my foot could span it I think and I'm a size 6. Five and a half sometimes. :)

She's already got a French drain in there (as described by anonymous above). Just doesn't work well enough.

Oh Nio, here a culvert is generally a ditch that's underground. I guess terms vary by region. (Her yard guy's from the same city though so that's not his excuse!)

Sara I wonder if New South Wales is NSWales. Heh.

Dave you are always improving my vocabulary. :)

I wish I could say that after my big revelation, I was never fooled again by a confident voice... but sometimes I still am. Now of course I can beat myself up more when it happens, since I knew better!

Like Dave suggested, I think people who are very good with that voice tend to go into politics. Or sell cars. :)

Marie said...

Looks more like a septic tank field line to me. Are you sure the yard man knows the difference between that and a swell?

Marie said...

I mean swale..

Marie said...

I mean swale..

Floridacracker said...

"I've a tale of a swale to tell ya lads, a snail of a swale that's true..."

(sung to the tune of "A Whale of A Tale" from Disney's 20,000 Leagues Beneath The Sea...my apologies to the late Kirk Douglas.

Rurality said...

No Marie, I don't think that yard man knows much of anything!

Lately I'm thinking that it looks like a shallow grave for an anaconda.

FC, well it sounds better than a trench of a tale I guess...

By the way, that is some lovely St Augustine grass, for anyone who wondered. Mom & Dad started it from plugs many many years ago.

seavu said...

I just happened to learn that word recently while looking at a big fat landscaping book. For swales that cut through lawns, they recommended lining them with river rock, and planting with edging plants that enjoy moist soil such as Louisiana iris, forget-me-not or meadow rue.