on living in a frozen swamp
If you’ve been to our house recently you know the predicament. We live in a low area, you see. A gully, a valley, a ravine. As in, our driveway is a steep slope and our house is at the foot of it, creating a fascinating conundrum that I like to call “Gutter-ism”. And we are “Gutter-ites.” What does it mean to be a Gutter-ite? It means that my front yard is a collect-all for anything with the ability to roll down the hill. It means that I live with the constant possibility that someday someone will come whipping down the road, loose control, and wind up in my kitchen, car and all. It also means when it rains, all the water that falls on the hill above our house comes rushing down to park on our walkway and occasionally as far as the front door.
It’s a design flaw on our property that we are only now realizing the full extent of. Last year we had a dry summer and a dry winter. The few times it rained were barely enough to wet the ground, and the sun would dry it up in a matter of hours. This year there is too much rain. Or not enough sun. Or both. Consequently, our front walk and the “drain” ditch on the side of the house have been covered in water since November. The ground simply can’t soak it up fast enough. So back in November when it started to become apparent that we had a problem I not so fondly started referring to the yard as the “swamp”.
It wasn’t such a big deal, until things started to grow in the swamp. Things like frogs. At first there was just one. He would sit outside the living room window and croak all day and all night. And at first it was kind of cute… you know, like oh, the sounds of nature cute. But pretty soon he was joined by another frog… and another… and another. And before long it was like a froggy convention two feet from the couch and you could hear them in any room of the house. The living room was the worst, though. We had to scream at each other to be heard over the racket. No joke! We almost blew out the speakers on the TV one night while trying to interpret the movie without the help of subtitles.
It was bad. Something had to be done.
So one night Caleb was like “Enough! I’m going out there to do something.” And I was all “Yes! YES! Bring me back frog legs for dinner, Baby!” And out he went, armed with a headlamp and shovel. I stayed on the couch and listened to him pummeling the ground and yelling “I got one! Ahh! I got another one!”
He was out there for five minutes and killed everything that moved. And then we settled back onto the couch and enjoyed conversation in a normal decibel range. It seemed that the problem had been solved. And it was… for about an hour. Then the convention got started again.
So over time we learned to tolerate the frogs. Tune them out. What else can you do? Then came the first big freeze, and oh man! what a freeze.
Somewhat related: I don’t know if we were just unprepared for the sudden severity of the cold weather or completely distracted by other things, like DEPLOYMENT, or what. But regardless the reason we were a little late getting the outside faucets covered this year.
So one night I was in the kitchen browning some ground chicken and Caleb headed out the front door with the faucet covers, a monkey wrench, and some pliers. I’m a little fuzzy on what went down after that, but about ten minutes later Caleb comes flying back through the door talking about something being frozen, and something getting broken, or something like that. Anyway. Through the open door I heard water gushing out of the faucet onto the walkway in alarming quantities so I’m like “Well, turn it off.” And he goes I CAN’T!! Then he disappears into the house and comes back dressed in about four layers of clothes, including his wet weather Army gear, and Crocs with plastic bags (we don’t own a single pair of snow boots or gollashes, why would we? this is Alabama for pete’s sake!).
So he’s out for almost ten minutes before he finally gets the faucet turned off, all the while water sloshing all over the walkway and freezing pretty much instantly. The bad news is that we can host an ice skating party now.
The good news is that the walkway isn’t the only thing that froze. I haven’t heard a single croak all week.