The hole — continued

The man from the drainage company volunteered to come to the farm and look at the hole, so he and the woman walked down into the Rock Pasture to take a look. It was a warm early spring day and although the ground was still damp from recent rains, there was no running water in the field except for a small trickle finding its way into the hole. When they lifted the plywood cover, the hole gaped open before them and the sound of rushing water reached their ears. The woman peered into the darkness below and waited to hear the verdict. If this man couldn’t solve the problem, who could? What other choices did they have?

Luckily, the drainage man turned to the woman and said the words she wanted to hear. “Yes, I do think we can fix this problem — and fairly easily.” The sound of rushing water made him think this might be an old drainage tile gone bad. If so, his people would simply dig it up, repair the tile, and then fill in the hole, solving the whole issue. After so many years and so many failed fixes, the woman thought to herself, “Could it really be that simple?” Yet she had no other options. They shook hands at the side of the hole, and she began the wait for the man’s return.

It wasn’t long before the man arrived with his work crew. The woman and her husband joined the team of men positioned around the hole to watch the repair. The drainage people brought in a backhoe and began to scoop out the rich black Iowa soil to find what they all hoped was a broken tile. After the first scoop of earth, they uncovered the lost black plastic man-hole cover! It had obviously not been totally lost! The drainage men pulled the plastic cover from the hole — and all was good.

The second scoop of soil revealed several big rocks deep in the hole — obviously those that had been dropped in to hold up the smaller rocks and gravel. Recognition played across the faces of the woman and her husband as they recalled the day they had “won” over the hole so many years ago. . . only to lose all of the rocks and gravel down into the depths soon afterwards. The tile men lifted the rocks out of the hole — and it was all good.

The next scoop uncovered a tree stump. “How did that get into a drainage tile failure?” the tile man asked, but the man and the woman knew the answer to that question. They well remembered their attempt to stop up the hole with the stump in the very beginning. The tile men lifted the stump out of the hole, too — and it was good.

The final scoop uncovered a broken clay drainage tile, and much water flowed from the earth into the now-enlarged hole. As the men removed clay fragments to find the unbroken drainage tile on either side of the break, the man and the woman watched, marveling that such tile would lie on their acreage so far below ground. When had it been buried? By whom? But there were no real answers — it was simply there.

The drainage men quickly added ceramic-to-plastic tile adapters to the two ends of the now exposed clay tiles, then trimmed a plastic drainage line to length and snapped it into place. A few minutes later, the backhoe dropped the broken tile, then the big rocks, and then finally the stump back into the hole, adding a final scoop of soil to the top, leaving a slight mound the dirt for future settling. The job was finished after only ten or fifteen minutes, and the hole was finally gone!

The woman and the man waved as the tile crew left, but they wondered whether their hole of so many years was truly gone. Would the next rain bring its return? It seemed hard to imagine that the focus of so much attention over so many years could be repaired so quickly and easily. Yet the repair held, and the next rain brought no swirling drain in the Rock Pasture, no reappearance of water flow into the earth. The soil over the hole slowly settled into place and, in time, the grass would grow to cover the spot.

Now the man and the woman could stand without worry on the ridge overlooking their fields where the sheep grazed and the young lambs gamboled and played. No longer did they have to be concerned about their lambs slipping beneath the edge of the plywood and into the depths of the hole. No longer could their dogs twist a leg by losing their footing along the crumbling rim of the hole. Finally the hole was gone, and all really was good.

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