September 11th, 2008


Indoor waterfalls and the animals that love them

A few weeks ago, before I was unceremoniously swamped by work and stress to where I could barely think let alone write, this very unusual thing happened. I suppose it’s not all that unusual in the grand scheme of all living rural folk, but in my experience it was unique.

It starts with a dark and stormy night.

My husband and I had been off all day, doing who knows what. Of course, it was a Sunday and we were returning late and in the early stages of what promised to be one humdinger of an electrical storm. The lightning was flashing and the clouds were many shades of gray, promising a whole night of pounding rain. There was enough light left that we could see, but it was clearly fading fast.

We pulled into the driveway and up close to the house. I got out of the car and could hear a weird rushing sound. It was very faint, almost like the streams nearby but louder. And a little odd. So I started poking around, trying to pinpoint it. It was loudest next to the vent for the crawl space. There it sounded like a rushing stream. I looked in through the mesh and could see a waterfall coming out of the insulation. Naturally, it was near the space where the electrical main is located.

“Go inside and shut off the water!” I called to my husband. He looked at me like I was crazy. “There’s a waterfall in the crawlspace!”

This got his attention and he moved inside quickly. I still don’t know why I didn’t just run to open the door and do it myself. Too many years of CPR training I guess - they stress having someone else do the calling and working triage yourself.

I started walking the yard, looking for other signs of destruction. The first thing I noticed was that the hose bib was sticking out from the house. About 8 inches of pipe was exposed, and this was the cause of the indoor waterfall. I immediately envisioned teenage boys tying the bib to a bumper or hitch of a truck and stomping on the gas. There didn’t need to be a logical explanation for why this would happen, especially after living at our last house and being next to the boy who would light random fires. Teenage boys are odd an inscrutable, in my mind, and half the time even they don’t know why they’re doing something. So I rushed inside and checked to see if they’d been in the house and make sure nothing was missing.

This was about when my husband showed back up after turning off the water. Turns out he’d done some looking around too and saw that the barbecue had been tampered with. It was slightly open, and the recycle bin (which had some meat-stained cardboard) had been knocked over. He also noticed that the box that houses the hose was gone. It wasn’t anything fancy, and I certainly wasn’t going to miss it, but it was close to the house and the hose was also missing. Taking in all these facts, he had a different explanation.


I walked around a bit more, looking for more damage, while my husband tried to corral me in the house. I was all cranked up on adrenaline and ready to hit something. I swear, if a bear had come out of the woods I would have punched him in the face.

We spent several frantic hours trying to figure out how to get a plumber out to fix the pipe that had broken on a Sunday night. The number of off-hours plumbers is shockingly small, despite the ridiculous amounts they can charge.  We finally found a guy and setleddown enough to talk about the practicalities of getting to work Monday morning and decided that the inability to shower was a deal breaker. So Monday, we worked form home and tried to remember that there wasn’t any running water in the house.

Mid-morning, it finally occurred to us that we could fix this pipe outselves, for a tiny fraction of the cost that a plumber would charge. It was probably the return of sense/loss of adrenaline that let us get there. All told, the repair cost about $35, some of which was for the perfect tool. So we got off easy.

At this point, our theory is that a bear came rambling around because of the smell of the meat. It decided to play with the hose box, and got tangled up somehow. This scared the bear setting it off running, rending the pipe. I have a vision of a bear tangled in hose and running fo cover, with the hose box merrily stuttering along behind.

We never did find that box.

Originally published at my blog. You can comment here or there.