I’ve been outside with an engineer from the county road department this morning, showing him where the earth is collapsing along the northwest boundary of our property. Last fall there were two or three places. Now there are more than a dozen. One crater is nearly four feet deep and big enough for a picnic table. Others are long and narrow, like crocodile graves. The ground is so soft everywhere north of the house walking around there is an adventure. The dogs have learned the terrain and leap the ditches like deer over garden fencing.
We won’t know how expensive it is until the county decides who’s responsible to fix it. The engineer seems to think it is a county job but not his own office’s. He gave me the number of the right department. I half expect to be redirected until there are no more departments to call and for this game of phone tag to take all summer. In the meantime I am hoping 1.) my house doesn’t fall into the earth 2.) we aren’t home when it does.
Since I can’t do anything else in this meantime, I’m enjoying the science of it all. The county engineer believes the drainage tile built to carry street water into the ravine has broken completely and now the water has to find it’s own way down the hill and into the creek below our house. Searching for a route, the water has to skirt rock and tree roots. Paths cut by all the water since the tile broke weakened the soil above. The heavy snow and ice this year added weight to the surface. Then it melted, adding even more flowing water. As the ground dried, the loose dirt collapsed into the ditches cut by the water.
Left to itself, water always goes lower, and left to itself, this water will eventually take my house and everything else in it’s path. Which is all kind of cool to think about, except for losing my house of course. Because the water doesn’t care. The water is just doing what water has always done. Water has no conscience, no sense of justice or fairness, no respect for human effort. So for a thousand generations, engineers have not left water to itself. Instead they captured and carried it where we wanted it to go. Once upon a time they hacked stone cisterns into mountains to catch enough rain for a village for a year. We’re luckier in that keeping my house upright only requires 200 feet of plastic drainage tile, a backhoe, several truckloads of fill dirt and the engineers who know how to do it. But I’m under no illusion. Whatever peace we forge includes no treaty. The water may stay inside the drain or it may not. Only time will tell. I pray this beautiful day allows you time to be outdoors. ~ peace & prayers, pastor annette