Published 1:46 pm Friday, September 26, 2008
For the third time this year I have been challenged in the most disgusting manner by a temperamental septic tank that takes fiendish delight in greeting Paul and me with three inches of your worst nightmare bubbling up in our bathtub.
Living on a farm with an array of critters, I have long ago abandoned the romantic ideal of bucolic country life and embraced the less than soft-focus reality. Having cats means that, not infrequently, I am awakened in the wee hours by the wretching sound that one learns to immediately recognize as a fur ball. You quickly learn that you have only three aacks! before this particular gift appears on the carpet. A dog that begins stretching its neck while opening and closing its mouth is the unmistakable warning to remove the animal immediately to the front yard. And lifting a horses hind leg in order to clean out its hoof is the equine equivalent to playing Pull my finger.
Rustic life means you willingly sacrifice the modern conveniences of your cosmopolitan friends. We have no garbage service in our area and, while Id like to say we drive our refuse weekly to the recycling center, the truth is we tend to put it off until our bins are overflowing onto the mudroom floor. Because we shudder at the thought of living near any bigbox stores, we happily drive the half hour to a Home Depot in the rare event we cant find what we need at our local hardware store. However, I would never have called our existence primitive, until Paul and I soon realized that our septic tanks vicious sense of humor of backing up on a Saturday would prevent us from either washing a load of laundry or, indeed, bathing, until the plumber could be summoned on the following Monday.
Most of us can get by if we must with a quick wash around the edges for a day but when you have horses, by the time evening rolls around and you have mucked stalls, fed, ridden, cleaned tack and unloaded a truckful of hay, you positively reek and the superficial swipe with the wash cloth will simply not suffice.
Suddenly, the wash rack in front of my barn, a concrete affair with tall wooden pillars on either side to cross tie a horse as he is bathed from the garden hose, looked positively delicious. In the early evening air, privacy secured by the massive Oaks and acres of grass before me, I had the most marvelous shower I have had in years: a soft, autumnal, light slanted across the fields and a breeze played amid the tops of the trees.
Like a shot, a Cardinal swept past and alighted atop a fence post. Patting down with my sun-warmed towel and changing into my evening attire of T-shirt and gym shorts, I walked back to the house with a newfound appreciation for the world and my place within it.
The septic tank will, it is hoped, be repaired come Monday, along with a scouring of the tub unmatched by even Hazmat. But until the weather gets much colder, or I accidentally surprise the Fed-Ex man, I just might not use it.