The World is Made of Dirt

culvertWhen we first moved to our place about 40 years ago, our neighbor and county road commission equipment operator, did some work on our road to make it more reliable for us. The road was very low and swampy right in front of our house, and when we convinced him that we were going to try to fix this old place up, he hauled in some dirt from up the hill, and put in a nice shiny metal culvert under the road. In those young days, we felt like we were on top of the world with a new all-season dirt road leading to out ever improving homestead.

About 35 years later in the springtime, I noticed a hole that developed in the road during the snow-melt runoff. I alerted our road crew about it, thinking our shiny culvert might be reaching the end of its useful life, and they dumped some gravel on road, rather than replacing the failing culvert. This happened year after year until 2014. I completely understand, by the way. These guys are responsible for over 200 miles of road, and have almost no budget to work with. The way they keep our roads functional for us 12 months out of the year continues to amaze me.

The spring runoff of 2014 was a bit different. Rather than getting a hole in the road, about 1/3 of the road washed away, to a depth of about 3 feet and for about a car length. You could drive past this cut in the road, but it was at your own peril. The guys came once again with big trucks loaded with gravel and fixed the hole, but this time they realized they had to replace the culvert. I wrote about that project HERE.

The section of the road that washed away when the culvert failed traveled through another long culvert and into our pond, where it clogged up the outlet and basically made a pretty nice looking pond look ugly. For a couple of years I’ve been trying to arrange for someone to come out and clean the road gravel out of the pond. For various reasons, that didn’t happen until a short while ago.

excavatorIt was worth the wait. A young family we’ve gotten to know had access to some aging but capable equipment. A bid for the job was offered and accepted. The excavator arrived on the scene, and with some fits and starts, the dirt digging and moving got done. We also had our pear tree removed since a) it was kind of in the way, and b) it has never really given us decent pears.

Alice and I are very happy with the result. Not only is the road dirt all gone from the pond, but the cattails are too. We have a nice view of the open water of the pond from our front porch now, and we really like it. We’ve decided that we’ll try to landscape that area so we can mow right to the edge, and attempt to keep the cattails under control so we’ll be able to maintain this lovely view.

newviewAfter the project was completed that day and the equipment was hauled away, I took a look at myself. I was pretty dirty. Our equipment operator also stopped back over with his family for a short visit, and I noticed he was pretty dirty too. We’d both been up to our elbows in greasy dump trucks, sloppy mud, and rusty chains all day. But you know what? Neither of us “felt” dirty. We’d earned every spot and smear. At least for me, the world is made of dirt, and I feel as though I’ve accomplished something when I interact with it, and a little bit of it stays with me.

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