Hot. A hundred degrees. This is how we fight:
I am silent. Why does he always have to be so negative? Okay, so it’ll be expensive to connect the electricity. It’ll be expensive to build the road. We knew that, we planned for it. God. He didn’t even notice the berries I picked. So what if we can’t find water up on the hill? It was just one man’s dumb opinion and anyway, we already have a well.
He is silent. Doesn’t she ever listen? The man said it was just clay, sticky, thick clay. No water. We were stupid to buy this place before we knew about the well. Stupid. Now I’ll have to pay to dig a well I already know won’t produce. And she just sits there like some Pollyanna, oh everything will be fine. It’ll cost a fortune to pump all the way from the old well, and there won’t be enough pressure when we do. Somebody has to be realistic. It’s not “fine.”
So we ride home without talking. We listen to the new/old Michael Connelly and the miles go by. Finally I ask a question about the story and the ice thaws a little. Nothing changes, we are who we are, and apparently always will be.
We drove down that afternoon, happy that the well guy had called back, that he could meet us this very day. Amazing! His name is Joe and he drove up in an old pick-up, of course. As Vik sometimes remarks, “there’s a Portlandia episode just writing itself,” and I wonder if there’s a rural Oregon corollary: Farmlandia. That’s Joe, the well guy. Jeans, of course, bit of a belly on him, bit of a 2 day beard, big smile. “Climb in, we’ll just drive up to the site, have a look.”
At least it’s air-conditioned in the cab of his truck, and we lurch up the hill. He looks for a bare spot of land on which to park, concerned that somehow his hot engine will start a fire on the dried grasses. All these lumps are ant mounds, he says, but when he kicks one over to show us, there are no ants. As before, when the septic feasibility agent was here. Ant hills, but no ants in sight. So? Aliens, maybe? Cows, I’m thinking.
Joe makes his observations, says he wants to examine neighboring well records, and we should drive around to see if we can talk to someone. On the way back down the hill, he shows us a photo of his new granddaughter, 6 months old, adorable. So old shoe, this Joe. Of course, I like him.
We approached the same neighbor that we’d met when John, the realtor, was scouting the area. She’s very friendly, helpful, and I’m glad to have met her. People don’t neighbor too much, she tells us, just go about their own lives, but are amiable enough when they meet. She couldn’t answer Joe’s questions about the depth of her well, but says they have never run out of water, and as they run a horse farm, use a lot for the animals. This seems to be good news, as her home is not far from our site.
Back at our place, the men talk. Joe has called someone, and they have a conversation by speaker phone about the land formation here. I take a plastic tub over to collect some ripe blackberries. So hot! I’m soon dripping sweat, and the berries are lush but mostly out of reach. I stomp down the dried weeds and thistles to reach into the brambles, thorns catching my shirt, my pants. I need loppers to let me get into the patch, but I manage to pick a couple of pints. I’ll cook them down, get the juice and add it to the first batch. Still not enough to make jelly, but I’ll be back.
So I’m happy. Joe has left, and I climb into our car. Larry says he wants to check on “that” pole, and disappears down the road. What that heck? Which pole? Where’s he going? I decide I’ll drive over and pick him up. He gets in. “Well, that was discouraging,” he says. “To say the least.” He slumps into the seat. Stupid. We are so stupid.
I turn the car around and we head home to Portland.