We can’t get the hang of our sprinklers.

We moved to California from New Jersey about six months ago, and everything’s weird. But the thing that hangs us up the most is our new sprinkler system.

Because of the drought, watering is restricted to two days a week, for 10 minutes, not between the hours of 7am and 7pm.

Back East, water fell from the skies. You’d maybe put a sprinkler out for the kids, or water your flower garden during a long dry spell, but only fancy houses had sprinkler systems on a timer. Often you’d see a sprinkler turn on during a rain storm and you’d smile to yourself. The things rich people spend money on, right?

At our new house, we turned off our sprinklers as an act of moral superiority. Months later our lawn wasn’t just brown, but dead. Oh, and so were those two trees over there. We’d murdered the front yard. Homicide by depraved indifference.

Our yard stuck out like a sore thumb. My husband began tinkering and got the system working again. Now we could water our dead lawn and dead trees. We were pretty pleased with ourselves.

With new eyes, we saw that the backyard had also become a dustbowl. Our dogs came indoors with dusty snouts, paws and coats, like they’d had a long day on the trail. Watering was the answer.

We flipped the switch and got flooding. No spraying. I went to Lowes for replacement parts. Once there, I stared at the shelf. The options were complicated – different systems, spray patterns, reach. Some were green, some were black. Just in case, I brought back 23 green parts. Turns out, ours were black.

Somehow we got it all going. The backyard is resuscitated but our front yard is still dead. But we water it for 10 minutes, Tuesdays and Saturdays like good environmentally-conscious Californians.

Last night my husband and I were leaving for a date at 7pm. I was in a red dress and heels. The sprinklers came alive and sprayed me. I skirted the water and rushed to the car where he sat behind the driving wheel, laughing at me.

Little did we know, at that same moment, my son was caught unawares in the backyard.  When the sprinklers started, he grabbed his cell phone and dashed to the only corner of the porch that stays dry. He stood and waited out the full 10-minute watering cycle. What’s worse? This wasn’t his first time.

We could probably fix that with different pattern spray heads. Green or black? I can’t remember. Maybe we just need to learn to stay indoors from 7 to 7:10 on Tuesdays and Saturdays. That’s how the Californians do it, I bet.