If a person were attempting to describe my day yesterday in monster-movie terms (and I’m guessing there’s more than one of you out there who does this regularly), it would have been called “Junior vs. The Pond: The Draininating of the Slime”.
Juniorvania is mostly a land-locked little paradise, having few riparian rights to speak of (in spite of a neighbouring stream/swamp on the southwestern border), no inland seas or lakes and no navigable (or un-navigable, for that matter) rivers. Thus, much of the Pride of the Nation, in relation to aqueous matters, is focussed upon The Pond. Being sufficiently unique within the Nation’s borders and furthermore being the object of such ubiquitous reverence and admiration among the Juniorvanian people, The Pond – unlike water bodies of lesser significance – needs no additional descriptive information in its name (cf. “Miller’s Pond” from Leave it to Beaver fame, “Great Slave Lake” or the “Pacific Ocean”). Rather, this formidable geographic feature is known simply and eponymously according to its hydrographical taxonomy.
You will understand that considerations of space do not here permit a comprehensive recitation of a complete history of The Pond. Nevertheless, any discussion concerning the events surrounding that reservoir would necessarily be inchoate without some mention of The Incident. Last weekend, my brother, his wife and their three kids dropped by for a visit to Juniorvania, their first since the weather warmed, the snows receded, and it became feasible for younger folk to explore the far-flung borders of The Nation. In the course of those explorations, my nephew Thomas was wandering about with a pair of camo binoculars for no reason intelligible to anyone over the age of 30 months. A proper (and appropriately scientific) recitation of the events that followed would not be in any way thorough without reference to both this document and this one (interested parties please pay particular attention to the bits about “algal bloom”, those are going to be important to the tale), but suffice to say that there were (at the time of The Incident) many living things of considerable interest to botanists and zoologists alike residing in The Pond. Sadly, there were also more than a few deceased specimens of some of these species.
Our intrepid but diminutive surveyor rambled around a corner with Mom following at a discreet distance (excessively close maternal supervision being notably detrimental to an explorer’s reputation for bravado among his fellow adventurers). According to recollections gleaned from Thomas following the event, it would appear that his perambulations on this day were of some heightened and immediate purpose, as the little explorer evidently felt an urgent need to relieve himself of the grime and grunge naturally accumulated over the course of the day. Say what you will about the little fellow’s standards regarding suitable cleansing facilities, but do not question his motivation, enthusiasm and dedication to rapid achievement of his purpose, for upon rounding the earlier described corner and espying The Pond, little Thomas abruptly bolted for the water’s edge as though he were shot from a cannon. It is unknown whether our little hero had hoped to bring himself to an equally abrupt halt upon reaching the margin where land met scunge prior to wading in more cautiously, or (in the alternative) if his sudden, forceful and complete immersion in the stinky morass represented a conscious and deliberate (if somewhat spectacularly injudicious) choice. Being related to the little tyke and therefore somewhat biased, I’d prefer to accord him the benefit of the doubt on this issue and to attribute to him the former, rather than latter, design. What can be said with some confidence is that if his plan was to approach – but not immediately enter – the water, it became instantly evident that there had been a serious error concerning the appropriate friction co-efficient to be applied in the “distance to full stop” portion of Thomas’ calculations. To be sure, the loose mulch, fallen leaves and assorted twigs at water’s edge would have presented a tricky surface to assess in terms of braking properties for most experts in such matters; for an excited two-year old bent upon a refreshing dip and racing incautiously towards a noxious cesspool, however, the challenges inherent in such an exercise were regrettably insurmountable and – as a result – the plan failed rather suddenly and catastrophically from the point of view of Thomas’ personal comfort.
Hearing the splash, my sister-in-law Colleen covered the ground remaining between she and her son the accidental bather in short order, then plucked him adroitly from The Pond by hoisting him in to the air by the ankle. Soaked from head to foot in algal bloom, stagnant water and decomposing fauna, our little fortune-hunter wailed in distress as he was deposited upon the capricious shore that had so recently cruelly betrayed him by refusing to successfully arrest his forward progress. As he sputtered and coughed in between loud protestations of his disappointment, sodden fragments of rotting leaves shot forth from his mouth. His breath reeked. A puddle of troublingly blackish water began collecting where he stood, and an indignant Thomas loudly proclaimed to everyone within earshot that “I socks is wet!”
As distressing as this event was for all concerned, it obviously could have been a lot worse. A quick trip to the shower and some aggresive laundering were all that was required to restore Thomas to full health and happiness, though you should forgive him if his zeal to discover has been somewhat diminished at least in the realm of new and exciting spots in which to bathe.
Soon thereafter, rocketing up the list of Juniorvanian domestic priorities was the need to “drain and clean The Pond.” This was so in view of:
- the foul and stinky water threatening to breed bloodthirsty slime monsters that might easily subdue us with their awesome powers, mere steps from our back door;
- the obvious safety hazard presented by a standing pool of completely opaque “water” into which a child might disappear and not be detectable; and the
- the fact that my camo binoculars (remember them, from way back up top?) were – in the immediate aftermath of The Incident – nowhere to be found on the terra firma surrounding The Pond.
Sunday dawned warm, sunny and with a sufficiently consistent stiff wind to permit the making of an attempt without risking continuous personal subjection to the stillness of stank in the air. Being a lazy chap, but also inveterately confident in the power of science, I set about gathering the tools I felt were needed to accomplish the task. These would include, principally, what is technically described as “a shitload” of rubber hose, something on the order of 150 feet. Complete and precise engineering details I cannot supply, for reasons of possible patent protection, but – in a very general way – my apparatus worked as follows:
- Run shitload of
hosedrainage device from general vicinity of The Pond (the “input area”) to general vicinity of much lower ground (the southwestern ravine, a.k.a. the “output area”);
- Vertically elevate output portion of drainage device using indigenous natural structure (place hose end in tree);
- Connect input end of drainage device to water spigot;
- Turn on water;
- When water begins splashing out all over hell’s half acre, turn off water;
- Pinch input end of hose to seal;
- Disconnect hose and run like hell to scungy pond;
- Insert input end of hose into pond;
- Unpinch end of hose;
- Remove “output end” from tree and fling it down the ravine bank; and
- Allow movement of water column through drainage device to create vacuum and begin water removal.
I believe my invention ought to have a name; in the history of science, every great leap forward has come accompanied with a similarly illustrious linguistic flourish generally indicative of the importance of the achievement. I am thinking of “Big Fucking Siphon.” Let me know what you think.
Six hours, eight hundred and four trips up and down the hill, two wet socks (I’m with you in spirit, Thomas), an inch and a half’s worth of grime caked on my body, and three wheelbarrow loads of what can only be described as “blecch” later, the deed was done. These labours produced one empty pond, two scraped and swollen knees, one sore back and – are you ready for it – one pair of submarine binoculars, covered in guck, filled with what one might loosely term “water” and immediately disassembled so far as possible to facilitate their drying and (thereafter) their hopeful re-integration into service in the Juniorvanian fleet of consumer optical equipment, for the better observation of deer and other menaces.
Replenishing the water supply in the freshly scrubbed pond was much simpler, of course. An hour or so later, The Pond was once again filled to the brim, a sparkling spring where once a fetid swamp stood reeking. The general public could only stand and applaud the industry, diligence and vision of their Glorious Leadership. I am certain this project will hereafter be remembered (at least by those with an interest in hydro-geological engineering) as something akin to Colonel By’s little dig and in similar fashion – by naming the capital city after its principal architect; hopefully, Juniorvanians of the future will not be so crassly anxious to rid themselves of “Junior City” as the good citizens of Ottawa were to be done with Bytown.