I was talking on the phone with Hal Fickett about what to do next with social media. I hired him a few weeks ago to keep me focused because my book being published along with teaching my students and working with my horses and being a wife and chores, well it gets pretty overwhelming, so much so, I scurry to Facebook because it’s easier to read than to do the next thing. I have admired his work with Frank Schaeffer on several levels. (He’s made some gorgeous websites for him.) He’s doing a good job keeping me focused and helping me tune this site.
As we were talking I saw a current of water flowing along our fenceline. The corner of our pasture, marked by a black walnut tree is the low spot of drainage coming off the neighbor’s corn field. Water had pooled there, held back by snow that had finally melted, so it broke loose and slid sideways towards our house.
Water was pouring over our driveway. I did not know if it would slide up to our house or not, but I do know that when water pools in that corner, it can flow into our house. There is a French drain that runs from a hole under the black walnut to our basement. We fill in the hole but it opens again because that’s the low spot, the weak spot, that accepts water.
Last year our neighbor filled it in, before spring thaw. Since then, mysteriously, water has not found its way so easily to our basement. We’re not exactly sure what happened, but we hope dirt or roots finally plugged the drain. (We’ve had a couple inches of water pour in down there and the fear that if the electricity goes off during flooding rains, we’d lose our furnace.)
“Hal, hold, hold on.”
“Sure,” he said. I put the phone on the kitchen table and saw a pool of water moving across the driveway and moving up the yard. Bruce and I had been dreading a quick melt.
I called our Road Commissioner. “The fields are draining into our yard. I’m afraid it’ll flood our house.”
“Hold on,” he said. “I am almost at the township garage. I can’t hear you. Hold with me.” The road grater he was driving was pretty loud. Then it quieted. “Where do you live?”
I told him. “You installed a new drain over here.” I did not say how I didn’t understand that the inflow stuck out from under the bank making more of a dam than a place for water to flow, or how I am concerned his widening the road will wipe out the trees in front of our house, the black walnut and a gooseberry tree. Snow turned to ice had plugged both ends, so run off had no where to go.
“Thank you for telling me. I wouldn’t know otherwise. I’ll be right there.”
I finished with Hal and set a plan for the next few calls. (The edits on my novel were forty pages from done. I had been pleased to revisit the book, as familiar as an old couch. The next day my editor would accept my changes, so the book is on its way.)
I was afraid of the water. It was gentle, how it crept over our driveway and eased towards our house. I was glad we have flood insurance. I opened the cellar door, looked and listened. The floor was dry.
I went outside and took pictures, wondering what Bruce would say, wondering if I should call him. Someone said that water showing up in your dreams is a sign of blessing, and someone else said the ground was not frozen under the snow, so there is hope some of it will sink down deep to restore moisture.
I have felt deeply blessed these last weeks–my editor sent me the edits so I could focus on them during spring break and he accepted the changes I’ve made, you are reading me, Morgen is going into training this spring with a wonderful trainer who believes in making friends with your horse, a new friend has invited me for lunch instead of my always initiating like I do with most people, and I am working with a motivated group of students.
But like that water gently seeping over our driveway, and up towards our yard, I am not a little afraid of what horrible thing might happen. My mother used to say “this too shall pass” not to comfort a terrible time, but to remind me my joy was only fleeting.
Brene Brown says we can feel the most vulnerable when we feel joy. She calls it “foreboding joy.” And I think of a prayer for compline that asks God to “Shield the joyous.”
I have felt this uneasiness with Bruce because right now we are walking quietly. Just before my collection of poetry was published, my brother died. With the novel on its way, I wonder who will I lose next? In my joy I feel like a laser is pointed at my heart, the gun shot to follow. All I can do is offer thanks, maybe sing an old hymn to the horses. I’m told to rejoice with those who rejoice, and so I rejoice, even if I’m the one I rejoice with and it is Lent and a cold one at that.
Living in the country carries with it a lot of work, but there’s also a kindness between people that rises when the weather turns on us. I walked up to where he dug and saw water pouring past the roots of a small black walnut. Just as quietly as it had flooded our driveway, the water eased back, eased out of our pasture into our neighbor’s waterway.