ALIVE by Kate Mohler

June 13, 2011

I’ve been back from Oman for over a week. My jetlag has subsided to the point where I don’t feel like crawling into bed for a good night’s sleep at noon, and I’m not flipping pancakes and frying sausage at midnight anymore. My circadian rhythm has returned, along with the five pounds it took to reestablish it.

I’m also back in the swing of yard work, pruning and fertilizing and raking up dead leaves. Yesterday I decided to turn on the watering system and walk the back forty, checking each emitter to see if it was plugged with dirt after our long bitterly cold winter, or broken and needing replacement. After touring around from plant to plant with my nose in the dirt, getting spit at and shot in the face, I straightened up to see a disturbing sight: the middle of my back yard was bubbling up from underneath.

I watched this phenomenon for a few minutes; it was like my yard had suddenly developed a huge heart, and it was not only beating—it was bleeding. It kept pulsing and liquid of some kind kept spreading, and I thought, Have I struck oil? I’m just back from the Middle East; did I inadvertently become magnetized or atomically charged enough to pull this geyser from the core of the earth?

I stepped over to the pulsing area of my yard—maybe a five by five foot patch—and watched as the liquid kept spreading. Even though I had a lunch date for which I had to be clean in just a half hour, I couldn’t stop myself from running to get my shovel and thrusting it into the middle of the moist, pulsating earth. I didn’t get anywhere fast because my yard is covered in landscape fabric to prevent weeds, so I ran to get my yard scissors and fell to my knees again in front of the muddy, gooey, still-beating section of gravel. I stabbed my scissors into the ground, found the fabric’s edge and cut cut cut, then ripped. The fabric shredded like skin. The hard clay underneath was slippery and muscular; I used my hands to claw away at it, occasionally jumping up to use the shovel too.

At this point I knew for sure that I had not struck oil, but maybe a natural spring.

Finally, covered in clay mud from forehead to shoe, crouched on my hind legs, I held in my hands the plumbing of my yard’s heart: one section of poly tubing and a PVC pipe, both still connected to the arterial system. I knelt in the hole I’d dug, splashing in the thick muddy water that covered me like blood. Water continued to pour from somewhere, somewhere that I couldn’t reach with my bare hands, so I knew it was time to call in the professionals.

I turned off the irrigation system, went in and showered. I was sad for my wounded yard all through lunch and into the next day until my irrigation people showed up. It took them five minutes to find the leak and fix it with a coupling, for free. You can’t even tell that anything happened there now.

I hope the next time my own heart bursts, somebody jumps to such fast attention. I hope I get a free coupling too—no strings attached, no hidden fees. Wouldn’t it be nice to not pay a price for once?

Kate Mohler is originally from Minnesota, but has lived in Wisconsin, UP Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington State, and Alaska. She now resides in Arizona. She has a B.A. in English from Bemidji State University in Minnesota (um…go Beavers!) and an M.F.A. in creative writing (Arizona State, ’94). She is a full-time English faculty member at Mesa Community College in Arizona. She enjoys working out, writing, reading, bonding with her cats Sara and Lucy, tackling home projects, and now baring her soul on her blog, www.hotdishing.com.

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22 Responses to ALIVE by Kate Mohler

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