Moonshine Wisdom & Wit
why We Keep the Old Outhouse
Story by Jack Archibald
“The last real cold snap our shack’s pipes froze up. Nothing new here, trust me —- we just wait for the Thaw or spring and hope they don’t burst. Sometimes they don’t, but when the Gods of Plumbing are angry, and they usually are, we aren’t so lucky. I could hear the rupture under the floor, the floor I’d recently redone in maple, which sounded like a cross between agitated snakes and the Johnstown flood, so I shut the valve at the well and considered all my options, everything from moving to the sunny Southwest to purchasing truckloads of bottled water from the IGA.
We have a 100 foot deep hand dug well some thirsty pioneer risked his life burrowing into the bowels of the earth in order to reach potable water. Try to imagine it: a 3 foot diameter tunnel straight down, one guy shoveling into a bucket, another hoisting it over this guy’s head to dump it up top. Shine a flashlight down to the bottom now and the reflection from the surface of the water below is the size of a silver dollar. Think Cave-In! Or methane gas collecting. Or a careless moment with a full bucket. They wanted water pretty bad. So do I.
That well is a heartbeat for our little homestead and our plumbing is its arteries, so yeah, I’m going to fix them, which, in this case meant retrenching from the shack back to the well, re-laying new pipe, planning a drain valve for the next freeze, leaving pipe exposed so if, okay when, it freezes and breaks, we’ll be able to make repairs easily. No digging under the floor or tearing up tongue and groove. No tearing into the walls.
It only took half a dozen runs to the plumbing department, a week of digging, drilling, sawing and glueing, bleeding and swearing, crying and finally simple whimpering. Plumbing: not for the faint of heart. But … we can once again use a faucet, flush a toilet, stand upright like homo sapiens and rejoin modern civilization. Just because we live on the South End doesn’t mean we have to live like animals. At least til the next Cold Snap.”