I relax as I saunter across the driveway. It’s the first time in weeks – months? – that I don’t have watch for ice at every step. Spring isn’t quite here, but she is closer… moving ever closer. The hottest day of the year (so far) was earlier this week – more than 50 degrees F – and most of the snow and a lot of the ice has melted.
As I turn the corner onto the main road, I can’t help but notice the drainage ditch filled to the rim with water. Huh. I thought that’d take care of itself. I walk farther along the road and take a good look at my yard. Damn.
As usual during a snow melt, our yard has flooded. Unlike every other time over the last five years, the flooding is fierce. Our entire garden sits under six inches of water. At the corner, it must be at least two feet deep and it overtops the stone wall of our perennial bed. That’s never happened before. Even my beehives now sport their own moats, surrounded on every side by water.
It was like this yesterday, but I thought it would resolve itself. Or, at least, that the water would go down. It hasn’t. Not an inch. I sigh and continue on my way. As I walk, a solution springs forth in my mind unexpectedly, a series of actions I can take to solve the problem. I stop abruptly and review my thoughts. Yes, I can fix this problem.
That’s new. The solution jumping to the forefront of my mind. And this belief – hope? – within me that I have the resources to actually follow through, to fix something that is wrong…how invigorating. It feels new and good and satisfying.
Hoses, we have hoses. Why don’t I run a hose from the lowest wet point, across the driveway, and into the wetland next door? I could drain the yard. Siphon off excess water so what is left can absorb into the shallow soil more quickly. If I act this morning, maybe I can drain enough water that the garlic won’t be hurt by the hard freeze forecast for tomorrow night. I stride along, enjoying the sun and the plants all around me, but focused. Focused and driven.
As I approach home, I check the wetland part of the field next door. Almost completely empty, as I thought. Adding my yard’s water won’t hurt it. The field isn’t mine, it’s my neighbor’s, so I need to ask permission before I implement my plan.
I mentally pause, expecting a roadblock, a stop sign to form in my mind. Contacting someone else, that’s where 80% of my plans flounder, end. I just can’t bring myself to do it. Luckily, my neighbor is on social media. I don’t have to talk, only text. I go inside, text him, and soon have permission to continue.
Excellent. It’s morning. I’m feeling pretty good. I can do this. I know how to do this. In fact, I have the equipment to do this.
First, I grab the hoses. It quickly becomes clear that one is too short. The other is slow to relinquish it’s previous shape. After some internal cursing and some lasso motions in the air to get it unwound, I get it situated. Just barely, it spans from the edge of the drainage ditch over the hump of the driveway and into the wetlands next door. Great.
Now, to get the water flowing. I have a drill pump, a neat bit of gadgetry. I brought it all the way from Sacramento over a dozen years ago and held on to it through four different moves, knowing that at some point I’d need it. Now is it’s shining moment.
High school chemistry taught me that water sticks to itself. Geology class taught me that water is always trying to find a way from high elevation to low elevation. Put those together and it means that if one end of a hose is higher than the other and a unbroken stream of water is running through it, the water will – of it’s own volition – flow continually, without additional prompting. That’s why a drill pump is so great. It gets the water flowing, then you can leave it alone.
That is, ideally. If the damn piece of equipment does it’s job. I struggle to get the flow started, using the drill pump first at one end of the hose, then the other. Dragging my drill and electric cord and drill pump around fruitlessly makes me feel the eyes upon me. No one is staring. Rather, I feel the eyes of all the nameless people watching me struggle, zipping by in cars no more than 10 feet away. I feel a niggling of self consciousness, embarrassment when my plan over and over again does not work. Another sign of healing, that I have the energy to be aware others might watch and judge. Before, I wouldn’t have had the bandwidth. After an hour, I give up on the drill pump. It’s a POS. Into the trash it goes.
I guess I have to do it the old fashion way. Manually. I plunge my hands into the ice cold water in the drainage ditch and force the end of the hose as deep into the flood water as possible. Once the air bubbles stop, I lift it up three feet. Then down again. Bubbles. Lift. Over and over again. My hands quickly start aching. As I continue, I feel the cold settle into my bones and my hands become stiff claws, unwilling to move.
Once I judge enough water has entered the hose, I pry my hands off the hose and secure it deep underwater with a brick. I walk to the other end of the hose near the wetland and kneel down on the wet ground. I pick up the end of the hose, put it to my mouth, and suck for all I am worth. Again, and again.
Water fills my mouth, and I immediately put the hose down low to encourage the flow. I spit out the water and see what my handiwork had created. A trickle. Just a damn trickle of water.
Too much air in the line. I put the hose to my mouth and draw in again. And again. As bits of water come at me, I spit them out and continue on.
There. Success. A steady flow of water comes through the hose into the wetland. Proof that my theory is sound. How much? Probably a few gallons a minute. Water fills at least three quarters of the hose diameter, and it has enough force to push out an inch or two as it exits the hose.
Excellent. My plan works. I feel success fill me. Pride. It took me almost two hours, but that water is damn well flowing. Finally. I go inside, glowing. There was no way in hell I would have had the energy for that last year. Plus the idea! Where did that come from? I begin to remember. I am handy. That’s right, I fix things. That is who I use to be. That is who I can be again.