There’s a corrugated plastic pipe that runs underground from the gutter system of my mom’s house to the ditch at the bottom of the hill behind the house. On the other side of the ditch is a hill that climbs back up and leads to an old barn. That side of the hill only gets mowed a few times a year. My mom keeps the hill close to the house, along with a bunch of other grass, mowed well throughout the warm months.
Every now and then, I take my trimmer to her house and take care of some of the weeds near the ditch, especially around where the pipe drains, so it doesn’t get covered. I’d trimmed late July, doing a much more thorough job than my mom requested, but I thought I might as well take care of a bunch of the weeds along the ditch.
Mom usually keeps a flag near the pipe, but the flag had been damaged a while back, and she hadn’t replaced it. A couple weeks ago, I took my trimmer with the specific purpose of clearing by the pipe and marking it with the flag in preparation for someone to mow the hill with a tractor without hitting the pipe.
But I couldn’t find the pipe.
I started where I remembered it being. I widened my search. I kept trimming more and more. The grass was thick, and I thought perhaps I was simply stepping over it. I trimmed closer to the ground.
Mom joined me. We raked some grass.
We checked wet spots with the hoe.
I made a line one shovel dig at a time to see if the shovel could locate it.
A neighbor came up with the idea of running water through the gutters and watching for bubbles and listening for water.
Over two hours had passed, and we were ready to give in. We called another neighbor who would come by with a backhoe in the next couple days. The mower was no longer the concern. We started to think the recent rains had washed enough topsoil toward the ditch to cover the pipe.
Just before heading back toward the house, Mom told me to walk into the “tall grass.” I looked at her as if she was crazy. Tall grass was all around. She specified and I took a couple steps into it and realized I was standing in water.
Yes, the same water the neighbor had sent through the gutters.
I took one step out of the water toward the edge of my mowing and stepped on the pipe. It was three inches into the unmowed grass.
Less than frustrated, we were grateful, and we laughed. How could we have been so sure we knew where that pipe was and been off? I had already trimmed farther than we imagined it being. There was no need to go three more inches.
But apparently there was. I trimmed a bit more and stuck the flag in the ground.
I don’t think either of us will forget where that pipe is ever again. But we’re not taking any chances.
Just because we’re certain of something doesn’t mean we’re right. We can know something with certainty at one point but get disoriented the next time. We need some markers, and we need to consistently keep our bearings.
The search through confusion can get tiring and uncomfortable, but it can also be an adventure – as long as we pursue through it and don’t get stuck in it.
What do you need to mark with an orange flag right now?