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Ode to the Summertime Sprinkler

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Ode to the Summertime Sprinkler

Summer

Ode to the Summertime Sprinkler

Ode to the Summertime Sprinkler

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As the summer heats up, host Debbie Elliott pays homage to the sprinkler. We hear the rhythmic pulse of an old-fashioned sprinkler, the poem "Ode to the Sprinkler" by Gary Soto and Adrienne Pierce's song "Every Sprinkler."

(Soundbite of sprinkler)

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

Recognize this sound?

(Soundbite of sprinkler)

ELLIOTT: As the summer heat sets in we've been contemplating sprinklers. This is the sound of the classic sprinkler, the one that sweeps water around 180 degrees and then stutters back along the same path.

(Soundbite of sprinkler)

ELLIOTT: Remember those snake-like sprinklers with the little wheels that would travel across the grass on water power? Or the kind that created a water bridge over the sidewalk that ended in a sparkly droplet rainbow? Perhaps these old-fashioned sprinklers are an endangered species now that automated water systems have become such a popular way to water the lawn, often at night. In some cities, like London, they've been outlawed in an effort to conserve water. For poet Gary Soto, the sprinkler has a special place. He's even written a poem about it.

Mr. GARY SOTO (Poet): Ode to the Sprinkler. There's no swimming pool on our street. Only sprinklers on lawns. The helicopter of water slicing our legs. We run through the sprinkler, water on our lips. Water dripping from eyelashes. Water like fat raindrops that fall from skinny trees when you're not looking. I run like a monkey in my orange swimming trunks, jumping up and down, pounding the mushy grass with my feet. One time a bee stung my toe, the next to the biggest toe. Then that toe got bigger than my real big toe. Like a balloon on it's way up. I cried and sat on the porch. The water on my face was not water from the sprinkler but water from inside my body, way down where pain says (foreign word) that hurts.

Mom brought me a glass of Kool-Aid. I drank some and then pressed the icy glass against my throbbing toe. The toe shrank back into place. And on that day I began to think of Kool-Aid not as sugar on the tongue but as medicine. And as for the bees, you have to watch for them. They buzz a lawn for their own sugar and wet play.

(Soundbite of sprinkler)

ELLIOTT: That was poet Gary Soto reading from his collection, Neighborhood Odes.

(Soundbite of song "Every Sprinkler")

Ms. ADRIENNE PIERCE (Singer): (Singing) You run through that sweet slender sound. It's a wild tendril. A rainbow of jewel. And remember when you used to run through every sprinkler on your way home from school.

ELLIOTT: And that's Adrienne Pierce singing Every Sprinkler.

(Soundbite of song "Every Sprinkler")

Ms. PIERCE: (Singing): Tropical turn in the sun. And I hope you...

ELLIOTT: That's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Debbie Elliott.

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