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Septic Tank Blues
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We got the septic tank pumped on election day, appropriately. Not a big deal, you say? But it's a once in a decade event, for us. Actually it's been more than ten years since we moved into this house. We were told the former owners had the septic system seen to shortly before selling the place.

Although we've had no signs of a problem, we figured it was time. When I lived in Rochester, on the public sewers, roots blocked the outlet pipe and we found ourselves flushing the toilet straight into the basement. That stinks. Waste disposal crises are best avoided.

But before a tank can be pumped out the lid needs to be exposed. I could guess the location of the tank thanks to a depression in the lawn about the shape and size of a grave but as far as depth I had no clue. Our neighbors said their tank was three feet down.

I could barely dig down a foot. We don't have soil here, more like a rock field with a little dirt thrown on top. That's why most of the so-called lawn is covered with moss which clings to the surface rather than grass which likes to put down roots, into actual dirt. It wasn't a matter of digging but more a matter of prying up one rock after the next.

Which didn't please my bad back.

It didn't take long for the muscle spasms to start. I ended up with a few shallow holes and one deeper hole, opposite the standpipe on the roof which I'd guessed, wrongly, was a likely location for the tank. It must have been a month before I could straighten up again.

So we hired an excavator who arrived with a John Deere backhoe, took two scoops, slicing through the rocky dirt like it was butter, and found the tank lid six inches down. I'd managed to miss hitting the tank by inches, in several spots. It made for an incongruous sight, this enormous growling piece of heavy equipment looming over a hole that looked like something a toddler had dug in a sandbox.

A few hours later the tank truck arrived and slurped up the cruddy gruel. When I was a kid I watched them emptying the trucks on the vegetable fields along the river but I guess that kind of fertilization is no longer allowed. The septic service guy had written on the back of the truck: "My wife keeps her nose out of my business."

Now we can flush without fear.

That's what passes for excitement around this place.

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