Life is so amazing. You think you know what you’re going to do, then wham. Life has something different in mind. Life just doesn’t like plans, does it? And I’m so glad, because life is so much more interesting when it’s always a surprise. I used to live my life according to plans and I did everything in my power not to deviate from them. If you really work hard at it, you can at least minimize side trips, though you can’t entirely eliminate them. Then one day I confronted the fact that I was miserable, and I picked up my laptop and my children and my big fat orange cat and went to West Virginia–and threw all my plans to the wind. Apparently, the universe picked up on my newly reckless spirit and there hasn’t been a plan I’ve made since that hasn’t burst with surprises and side trips–that I have often and cheerfully taken.
And so yesterday, I drove out to our farm full of PLANS. We had two potential drilling spots picked out–the site of the old well, or the spring on the hill. And I was pretty set on the spring. If not the spring, it was back to the old well site. And that’s all she wrote. The End.
I write books for a living, and I am here to tell you that that saying? That life is stranger than fiction? It’s true, because I couldn’t make this stuff up.
The driller and his witcher were waiting for me in the meadow bottom. (And if that sentence right there doesn’t tell you all you need to know about my life, I don’t know what would. I have a driller, a witcher, and a meadow bottom. I couldn’t be farther into the backwoods of West Virginia.) Dusty-the-Driller pointed in seemingly random fashion at a spot halfway up the meadow between last week’s dry hole and the old well site.
Dusty-the-Driller: “I want to drill there.”
Me: “I’m not poking holes all over this meadow. We’ve already got one dry hole down here.”
Dusty-the-Driller: “I want to drill there.”
Dusty-the-Driller: “Double or nothing. I drill where I want to drill to 100 feet. If it’s a good well, you pay double. If it’s dry, it’s free, and I go up the hill this afternoon and drill where you want to drill. If we go up the hill now, you pay for that hole and if it’s dry, then I come down here and you pay for this hole, too.”
In other words, if I drill on the hill first, I could pay double anyway for TWO dry holes. Witching is not an exact science. Then you drill, and you can miss the water by inches. Witching can also pick up on old pipes, and our farm is full of old gas pipes from a century ago. In fact, we found an old gas pipe on the hill near the spring.
Could the witching by the spring be picking up 100-year-old gas pipe? Country wisdom says drill by the spring. But the double or nothing? It’s double or nothing off a reduced price for a subsequent drilling after a dry hole. So if he finds water in the meadow, it’s not much more than the original dry hole cost, even at double. We get two shots and the first hole is free if it’s dry. And we don’t know how many dry holes we’re going to drill on our forty-acre farm, one more, two more, or ten more. He was offering a free dry hole. Me? I just want water. From that standpoint, Dusty’s bet was win-win. He finds a good well in the meadow, he gets double and I get water. But oh how I wanted to drill by the spring! Still, I can’t forget the gas pipe on the hill that could be interfering with the witching. I didn’t want to pay for another dry hole. Or two. But this new spot was not in the plan at all…..
And yet there I stood in a meadow bottom with a driller and a witcher, and that wasn’t my original life plan, either.
So Dusty-the-Driller got his water witcher and they headed for his randomly chosen meadow location to witch the precise spot. And here’s what happened.
We both won. Dusty-the-Driller hit water at 18 feet and he went down to 100 because he promised 100 feet. And the water was gushing all the way. All the water we could ever use and more. It’s a well and a half.
Dusty-the-Driller: “Sometimes I’m right.”
Dusty-the-Driller’s water witcher scooped up a handful of water and drank it. “Tastes good,” he said. “Except for the mud.”
(What did I tell you? Could I make this stuff up?)
Back up at the spring, Steve-the-Builder pulled up a handful of frog eggs.
I can’t wait to live here. There is so much to discover! Our farm is so beautiful. We have several springs on our hill. I want to build a springhouse. And we’re going to dig out one of the springs to make a duck pond.
Steve-the-Builder couldn’t resist witching near the spring where we were thinking about drilling one more time.
Steve-the-Builder: “There’s water here, I just know it.”
He’s looking to buy a drilling rig of his own and he’s determined to come up our hill someday and drill by that spring. He’s a man with a dream. And if we ever have trouble with our water line down to the meadow, he’ll be the first person I call. Yesterday, we took a side trip off the plan–and we found a gusher. Today, Steve-the-Builder is hooking the new well into our existing water line in the meadow and pulling over the electric to run the pump. The kitchen is set up and two bathrooms are now ready. It could take a few days for the new well to settle before it’s safe to really run water in the house, but our well is drilled in rock so it could clear up in a matter of hours rather than days. We’ll see. Either way, now that I know where the ending is, I’m in the mood to camp if necessary.
Tonight, for the first time, we will sleep in our new farmhouse.