5:15 AM - Coffee waiting, thank heaven for the timer! Standing at the sink, wrapped around my first cup, fledgling consciousness informs me of a bad sound. There is a motor running somewhere and there shouldn’t be. Attentive, now, I listen carefully. It’s the water pump, under the house, just running and running.
5:17 AM - I finish zipping my parka, as I pull open the door to the crawl-space/pump-room. For a moment, I’m caught by the beauty of my surroundings; the temperature hit -12 this morning and the woods are a sparkling, fairy landscape. It releases me quickly and I crawl through the door and stop. A different brand of enchantment greets me; trolls live here. Water, sieved through dust bunnies and spider webs, hangs, frozen in lines and loops, grey-brown and silver and dripping. From an elbow of pipe in the corner, spurts a constant rain of cold water that drenches everything, freezing in places and running in others. I reach out with my rubber mallet and flip off the pump switch (GFI circuit notwithstanding, I’m NOT grabbing a hot switch with my feet in a swamp.) The fountain dies.
5:29 AM - I head out with the dog for our walk.
6:15 AM - Holding a toaster waffle in my teeth, I fend off the dog with one hand, while I dial my work number. Home Depot isn’t open yet, so I leave a message that I’ll be late.
6:23 AM – Rummaging madly through the huge box of plumbing and electrical bits, I’ve come up with a useable replacement elbow and the pipe cleaner and glue. The cleaner has pretty much evaporated, but there’s enough for this job – I think. I grab the pipe cutter and head for the pump.
6:36 AM – I can’t work the pipe cutter with my gloves on, so I take them off and grip the tool with my wet, chilling fingers. A few deft turns later, the pipe separates and dumps a couple gallons of icy water down my parka sleeve; another cut, and the elbow is free. After carefully drying both cut ends, I swab them liberally with the last of the pipe cleaner – my head develops a floating sensation. The lid of the pvc glue is cemented in place (of course), but succumbs to the water pump pliers I carry in my pocket. I slop glue liberally (and somewhat drunkenly) on all appropriate ends, wait a few heartbeats and cram them together. Good, they fit. I smile… and smile. Whoa, chemical fumes on the brain, time to get out of here. I turn, trip and sit in the mud. Some of it crunches. I smile. Yeah, definitely time to get out of here.
6:59 AM - I crawl out into the cold sunshine and check the time. I should be clocking-in to work right now. This is not too bad, if I leave now… I laugh; I’m wet, cold, covered with mud, hungry and high as a kite, not to mention that my dog is somewhere in the woods, chasing something (I can hear his deep throated woof, woofs, begging whatever-it-is to play.)
No, I’m going to tend the wood-stove, change my clothes, call the dog, have some more coffee with an extended brunch and fine-tune the story of my morning trials. When I wander in around noon, everyone will think I’m a heroine for getting there at all – after all, they’re all men.