A Ton of Work…Literally

5-22-15 driveway with partial rockA few days after our sinking episode, we called a gravel truck. The problem: because the clay was so soft, he couldn’t gradually release the rock so that it spread evenly. He just had to dump it. While he went for another load, we spread it with shovels, shoes, and gloved hands.

We hadn’t expected anyone to be able to come out on such short notice, much less deliver multiple loads. Otherwise, we might have had more hands on deck! Instead, it was just the two of us. We had planned to spend the day clearing the new site for the cabin, but we knew this had to be done. More rains were on the horizon, and the driveway was basically a 6’ x 22’ mud hole.

The air was cool and the day was lovely, but after spreading the third load we were worn out—and the driveway was only half done.

Then, the mayor of Higginson himself showed up—tall and serious, with a resemblance to Tommy Lee Jones. He was in the neighborhood because around the corner a stretch of houses were having some sewer problems. [With a composting toilet we won’t have to worry about that!]

He exuded silent confidence while sizing up the situation. He told us he’d be back with a backhoe, and five minutes later we watched, mouths agape, as he smoothed out the freshly-dumped load.

5-22-15 driveway with rock

We asked if we could make a donation to the town, but he wouldn’t take any money directly. Instead, he said, “If you want, go to City Hall and make a donation to the 4th of July fund.” He seems to take his civic position as one “for the people.”

Thankfully, our cabin-building schedule was only tentative, or else we’d be behind. At the moment, we’re under a severe thunderstorm warning, and up to five more inches of rain are expected this week. We’ll go out to the land on Thursday to see if our new site is still above water.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Although the driveway was still pretty wet, we thought we’d push on through in the car and save ourselves the trouble of hauling equipment over the mud puddles.

5-19-15 Car in the mud

In short, we caused ourselves more trouble than we saved.

The title of this post comes from the Robert Burns poem “To a Mouse, On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785.” He apologizes to the mouse, whose house he has accidentally destroyed at the onset of winter, then philosophizes:

 The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Gang aft agley,

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,

For promis’d joy!

He then tells the mouse that though she’s unfortunate in the present moment, she’s still luckier than he: humans look back on a difficult past as well as anticipate future hardship.

After over an hour of futile attempts, we were soaked and muddy, spirits dashed. A kind neighbor drove by and pulled us out with a chain. It was a moment of triumph.

We then discovered that with the recent rains, our cabin site had turned into a swamp. To our credit, the house stakes were on the highest ground. Still, our “castle” doesn’t need a moat, so we’re currently looking for a new spot. We probably need more sun for the solar panels anyway.

Looking back on the mistakes we’ve made and knowing that more surprises are no doubt on the way, I can relate to Burns’ poem. But the kindness of strangers, not to mention friends and family, gives me comfort.