Monday, December 17, 2007

"The Hose" — A reflection from my youth.

In retrospect, the blue sky I remember was probably more of a hazy brownish gray. Whether there were clouds in the sky wasn't important because it was a beautiful summer day in Azusa, California in the 1960’s. The weather was mostly beautiful and conducive to my explorations and mischief where we lived in a small track home an hour or so from the beach.

Summer was my favorite time as a young boy and we were allowed to play for hours, often left to our own devices. I was probably eight or nine at the time and loved the many adventures available to us daily.

Some time before, we (my brothers Terry and Trevor and I) had discovered that there was sand under the topsoil. We had a trampoline that was dug into the ground, which we jumped on by the hours. I get tired of thinking how many hours we jumped and had seat wars and tried flips (scars to prove it). We also spent many hours underneath the trampoline making great excavations with matchbox tractors, and graders, and caterpillars, and cars, and trucks. Soon we discovered there was sand.

We had hit pay dirt. Sand and more sand; there was a never-ending supply. Sand was great for highways, roads, and experiments and fabulous with magnets (we sifted great quantities of iron ore from it with our magnets).

Dad seemed annoyed that our excavations were so intrusive that the trampoline structure was potentially unstable (which in fact we knew it was). But back to the story:
One day, after Dad had gone to work and Mom was out of sight we started building great highways in the planters of flowers in the beautiful front yard. The front yard that my Father worked endless hours to make beautiful. The details of the yard were intricate down the exotic dichondra grass.

This road building however was important stuff. We understood this as our little house had been consumed by a new superhighway months before.

Well everyone knows that to build highways one needs mortar and nothing builds mortar like soil and WATER. Soon the garden hose was turned on and water was carefully obtained for our ambitious project. But as is the case with boys—it wasn't long before we became bored with the construction project and moved on to better this case HIGH PRESSURE WATER DRILLING.

Now I had done some drilling before on the side of the house where less important landscaping took place. But this was front yard central. It is still amazing to me how if one takes a hose, turns it on to full blast and inserts it into the ground how easily it will drill into the ground.
On this particular day some uncontrollable impulse overtook me. And before I knew it the I was able to push the hose, running full bore into the ground great distances. Each time I pulled it out, I measured how far it had disappeared into the ground with my hand. Like a driller adding a new length of pipe each time I continued while a bubbling cascade of water oozed out of the hole.

I remember the very distinct thought “I wonder how deep I can get it down into the ground”. I also remember my brother helping me feed the hose farther, and further into the ground...This was GREAT FUN!

Then it happened. It seemed odd that the water ceased to bubble up from the ground. I could feel the water running through the hose. But what seemed even odder was that the hose didn't seem to want to come back up. Not to worry I thought, I'll just pull harder. But as I pulled with all my might my mind began to fill with panic. What if I can't get it out?

Time is an interesting thing especially when you are trying to remember years ago...but it seemed like hours passed and my brother and I pulled and pulled. It became clear this we were going to lose this tug-o-war with the earth. Finally we got the shovel out and started digging. Our hole seemed pretty deep to us but it was not deep enough.
By now my panic was replaced by fear. Oh, Man am I gonna get it. What am I going to do? I don't remember what my brother said, but I want to believe it was probably something like. "You're in trouble now!"

I wanted everything to be all right but soon realized it wasn't going be. I was in a real fix. So I started thinking. Soon I had devised and implemented a plan. You know, I knew if wouldn't work, but in my own mind I fantasized ‘well...maybe Dad won't notice or maybe he won't know it was me”. Deep down, so to speak, I was wrong. What I did know for sure was that I didn't want to be around when Dad came home.

I was hiding somewhere when I first heard him call and wanted to believe all was well...but I knew better. As I think back I can't help but laugh, but I wasn't laughing then. Too this day I can only imagine the look on my Fathers face as he grabbed the end of the neatly coiled hose, (which I had carefully removed from the faucet and carefully coiled on the ground, surrounding the 3/8” drill hole – so he wouldn't notice). I envisioned him pulling it until it stopped with a jerk.

It was kinda hard to explain how the hose got there and got there so securely...but I tried my best. He sternly asked me how deep it was. This was a difficult question. I wasn't sure if I would be in more trouble if I said it was really deep (probably about six or more feet) or if I said just a little.

I chose the later, which proved to be a mistake, as the carefully and recently washed shovel was out again. This time my Dad was doing the digging. I remember the looks on his face and the sound of his frustrated muttering. As the hole got to about four feet, I felt panic again and was given further interrogation. My answer was not convincing and it facilitated the last straw.

Soon I saw the shovel spiraling through the air like a boomerang and watched in shock as my Father stormed to the garage. Storming is kinda like marching. I think he learned it in the army. But in a flash he was back quickly, this time with a knife. How I know that I’m not sure, because I’m sure I was staring at my frayed shoelaces.

I still remember how that hose looked sticking up freshly cut from that deep damp hole. Dad didn't say too much more so I laid low for a while. But I forgot to tell you. That was the day I discovered there was sand under the top soil and water didn't bubble back up from sand like dirt.

The sand, it was everywhere, lots of it. We lived on an old river bed. The question was how to get to it?


Anonymous said...

I love this story! I'm glad your writing down your memories too. There is something different about actually reading story than listening to it. I can't wait for your next post!


Amy said...

I love this story. I crack up too as I picture Grandpa walking with the hose only to be yanked back towards the drilling site.

Hugh said...

I remember being taught how to make a firecracker sound chamber in the sand box so that mom wouldn't hear, but that was probably Trevor or Blair. I'm sure they conceived at that themselves. ;-)