Our lives revolve around the waterline during the winter months. When it freezes, we run the water out of the tank by opening our faucets, and as soon as it thaws I put the plugs back in the line and we re-fill the tank. It's a great system for living out here in the wilderness--in the nearby village once their line freezes chances are it will stay frozen until the warm winter months.
After a recent freeze I went over to the dam where the pump sits and went about the business of running it to fill our holding tank so we could wash dishes, flush toilets without having to haul buckets of saltwater, and do laundry again. I noticed when I got there that we'd had a close call. A hemlock tree had been uprooted in one of our many violent storms and crashed down within yards of the dam and pump.
I filled the pump's tank with gas, checked the oil, squirted a little ether into it as a bribe for good behavior, switched on the engine and choke, and pulled on the recoil. I typically have to crank on the stubborn thing for several pulls, pretend to give up so the smug piece of metal thinks it's better than me, then go at it again when it will usually condescend to run. This time it decided to really let me know who was boss. On the third pull the recoil came off in my hand.
I didn't have any tools with me to fix it--besides, this was a job for my dad, who has a strange and loving communion with engines of all kinds. I, on the other hand, have found that engines have a strange and hate-filled dislike of me. I've long since given up trying to reason with them, woo them, or trying to wheedle my way into their good graces.
My dad took the skiff and tools over when the tide came in and went to commune with the pump. For once, an engine decided to play coy with him. He had to bring part of the pump back to the house and work on it for the rest of the day. In the morning he and I trekked through the woods to the dam (I acted as guide, pointing out highlights--like the unreal number of trees that had come down in this winter's storm season).
He put the pump back together, added some stabilizer to the fuel to help it run more smoothly, and even re-built the box lid that protects it from the elements. Hmm, I thought. Maybe it was all this loving kindness he lavished on inanimate hunks of obstinate machinery that made them suck up to him the way they do. Yep. The pump started up immediately and purred along in the most sickeningly demure way, as if it was always that well-behaved. As. If.
All seemed well, until way short of the usual amount of time a tank of water lasts us, our faucets went dry. There had to be a leak in the line somewhere. After searching for a while, I finally found it. Naturally, it was at the worst possible place. I had to climb through a wilderness of slimy, dead branches littering the beach to where the line followed the rocks to our floathouses.
The leak was an old one that I'd repaired last year. It wears against the rocks, so it's no surprising that it needed some more first aid a year later. My dad outfitted me with some patches of adhesive cloth, black electrical tape, and paper towels. I contributed the pocket knife.
Since the waterline is not a machine, it cooperated with a willing spirit that endeared it to me, and in no time at all I had a new patch on the leak and we were back in business. Running water and flush toilets...you really know you're living the good life when you have both of those.
P.S. Check out my column at Capital City Weekly, www.capitalcityweekly.com, tomorrow, Wednesday the 1st, to catch a wilderness kid's view of neighbors. Be advised. It may be frightening to some.
Mark T MorseTara
2/1/2017 01:53:44 pm
Tara, you are a living legend and a hero in my eyes so don't let anything I say detract from ur harsh conditions. I can only laugh when I hear about that part coming off. It's not a 2hr fix or a 12 hour fix but thru this rapid technology it is fixable reasonably by bush standards. I love ur description of ur Dad purring that thing back to running while you and I kick and moan and believe an inantimate object actually hates us? And I think we fall under the bright column? Rand and Rory were hosed pun intended when the smallest of leaks happen. If they could find the part on the phone with some city slicker at Tongass they were overjoyed. If they could get credit have someone place it on a plane for mail drop etc...that was 8 out of 10 lucky and their still looking at 5 days with no basic amenities. Can't you see ur uncles/pops half praying half nurturing cold hard steel as that might have some effect? You and I could pull Frank's engine 50 times a piece. He'd Pat it on the head and say cmon girl? One crank. As lefty liberal as it sounds. Ur Dad had to have a relationship with those machines. Every spit, gurgle, sputter meant something different to the loving owner. We miss that with everything at our fingertips. When drones are implemented it will be great to have ur part arrive in 5 hrs. But aren't you a little further jealous of dad and his machines? Again, we all know you eat steel and sh.. nails so no disrespect. I'm just kind of a romantic for those live or die moments as I write you from my 3 story central heat and air house...lol. Love you kiddo! Give em hell T!!!
2/3/2017 08:53:46 am
You're absolutely right, Mark. I've always been in awe--and yes, more than a little envious--of the way my dad can talk even the most obstreperous machine around to his way of seeing things.
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Tara Neilson (ADOW)