High and Dry

The rain just won’t quit.  It’s Easter Sunday and you can be pretty sure that no child within 50 miles of here hunted eggs outside today.  For 4 days, the ground has been soaked by rain and now it’s saturated and the water is piling up in the creeks and rivers around the areas.  Oh, I forgot…the basements, too.

Yes, I sit in the den and hear the sump pump running and stopping, running and stopping; the cycle continuing most of the afternoon.  You would think that I would be annoyed, but actually, I’m pleased.  Annoyed would happen if the pump wasn’t working.  I remember a time when it didn’t.  There’s not much to tell really, but I don’t ever want to have it happen again.

It was about a year after we bought the house.  Actually, we purchased the entire property that the music store sits on and the house came with it, including the tenant who was leasing the house for a food service business.  I got the call early one morning from the lady.  “Paul, you’ve got to get over here and replace the pump in the cellar.  There’s a lot of water down there and it’s not working.”  Pump in the cellar?  What’s that for?  Water?  Why would there be water under the house?  You see, I had never had a building with a cellar before and I didn’t know what happened when it rained and saturated the ground around a cellar.  Additionally, this cellar is not finished and has been under the house for over a century, so water-proofing is non-existent down there.

I went down the steep cement steps into the cellar.  Whew!  The stench hit me, causing my stomach to churn.  There’s nothing worse than water that’s accumulated over time.  Well, nothing worse, unless it’s actually having to get into the water that’s standing and stinking.  But, that’s just what I did.  No boots on (who has rubber boots in Arkansas?), I just stepped down into a foot of filthy water, flashlight in hand, hoping against hope that no snakes had taken up residence or that there was no electrical short in the wiring to the pump.  After a bit of exploration, I found the deceased sump pump and removed it without getting shocked or bitten.  A trip to the hardware store and a hundred dollars or so later, I returned to climb back into the stagnant water down below, shuddering again as I did.  The pump was installed and at last came the most satisfying part of the job.  It was turned on and the water rapidly receded below my ankles and then my feet, disappearing finally altogether with a gurgling sound as the pump automatically shut off, to await the next deluge. I couldn’t get home and out of those clothes fast enough!

Given my unpleasant experience with that pump twelve or more years ago, I have kept an ear out for its operation every time the rains have come with any frequency.  Once more, a few years later, the pump was silent for more days than was expected, so I made the trek down to investigate.  Sure enough, the water was collecting, this time, not enough yet to soak my entire shoe.  Repairs quickly made, it continues to function to this day.  The humming, vibrating noise will cause us to sleep a little restlessly tonight, but just to know that the electric sentinel stands guard down below makes it easier to relax and be content that all is well.

A trifling matter to write so much about, you may suggest.  Possibly so, but the pump protects the entire house from serious damage, besides sharing the basement with the central unit for heating and air conditioning the house.  A flood unchecked would necessitate a major outlay for repair or even replacement of that very important system.  There is also the small matter of mold growth and even damage to the foundation which could occur.  A small thing; that little sump pump, but what a heroic job it accomplishes, even when I’m not watching and supervising. 

Sometimes, right beneath our noses, things are not as they should be.  Ignorance may be bliss, but it is ignorant bliss and will almost certainly lead to cognizant misery.  Give me the minor inconveniences of preparedness over the disasters that accompany negligence, any day.  You may well imagine that I’m not just speaking of house repairs either.  All parts of our lives, both physical and spiritual, need constant monitoring to assure proper function.

It is possible, though, that if the current weather pattern continues, this principle might demand ship-building skills.  I’m pretty sure I’m not really prepared for that.  Oh, well!  It could be that it really is better not to know some things…



“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
(Matthew 7:25)

“It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.”
(Aesop~Ancient Greek author~620 BC-560 BC)

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