Do you remember as a kid the sound of early spring when water dripped from the icicles along the eave of the verandah , when rivulets ran through the paths and made imaginary rivers and islands in the unpaved driveways? Did you ever take a stick and make a new channel allowing the running water a different route to navigate or create dams that built up little reservoirs ? And then just as they got full did you open the flood gates to release the pent up walls of water? Did imagination soar making a bump of soil an island and a rock a mountain? Did the mind map out canyons, bridges, canals, isthmuses and engineer their construction?
It is beautiful to remember those days when happiness was in the playing. I didn’t need to be an engineer. The joy was in the imagining.
Well just yesterday I had a play day. It didn’t start out that way. My intention was to clear the catch basin just in front of my house. The forecast called for heavy rain and warmer temperatures. On the ground there was about three feet of snow and on the sides of the street the plow had mounded it to six feet in some places. Much of it was frozen because the temperature had been quite low for several days. I was concerned that the predicted warm air and ensuing melt along with the rains would create flooding. And there would be nowhere for the water to go. The drains were buried under snow and ice.
I took my ice pick, and shovel . As I walked along the side of the road I knew it would be difficult to find the drain . I had an approximate idea but it could be buried under a ton of plowed up snow . I had checked out Google Maps and knew it was somewhere in the middle of the crosswalk on my side of the street. The problem was it could be a foot in from the snowy edge or it could be six feet in. In winter roadways become narrower and the edges become wider and higher.
I started digging . It was a formidable task. I hacked with the pick, shovelled the shavings, hacked some more. The upper crust of snow was melting by now because the temperature had risen. Water was running on the pavement. I checked to see if any caves were forming along the icy edges and if the water appeared to be running towards a drain. There was nothing; just pools going nowhere.
I kept picking. Minutes ticked by. I was beginning to sweat. My shoulders were aching. I was about ready to give up. Just then the pick went straight down. A hole! I’d found it! The drain! Twenty minutes later I had it exposed . There was nothing more exciting to me at that moment than seeing the metal grate staring up at me. I made a channel through the ice from it to the open part of pavement. The water in the pool gushed towards the drain. I dug another channel out to the other side and water from that end rushed in. Next I started a small channel to the edge of my driveway where a large puddle had formed. That took a while to do because it was about twenty feet away. Eventually I reached the driveway. I kept widening the stream till there was a nice current flowing happily to the drain.
About two hours from my initial stroke of the pick I was still at it. My shoulders no longer hurt. I felt warm , not hot. The cool air was invigorating and I didn’t want to stop. It was then that I realized I was actually playing. I was enjoying the construction of my canal , the opening of dams , and watching the flow of water as it tumbled into the drain. Once again I was a child.
Later that evening as I was telling my daughter about what I had done, it occurred to me that the only thing I needed to affirm my second childhood to the drivers that passed me that day was a toy boat. Imagine that. I could build locks and bypasses to save it from the wrath of the drain.
As it was, to the passersby, I was a conscientious citizen exposing a drain and doing her civic duty.