The frozen pump house

by DRM

The Pump House

"The Pump House" by Roger Johnson

The pump house froze up last night and when we came downstairs all we got from the faucets was a thin trickle of water.

I pulled my boots on, picked up a shovel and walked down the lane to where the path cuts across to the pond.  The pump house is built into the dirt there, three sides dug deep into the lower lawn and the fourth exposed to the west.

We’re snowbound now, after all these storms, and the snowbanks have narrowed our wide lane.  A few more storms and the snow is going to win, turn the lane into something almost unpassable.  The long yard drops down from the house, an almost unsullied white sheet.  The snow is too deep and the air is to cold for the kids to venture down this way.  The dark plunges of deer tracks run across the yard at an angle down to where they chew on the lower branches of the cedar trees.

I crunch through the snow to the pump house.

This structure is about as old as the house, I guess.  It’s a thick slab of concrete surrounding two metal bladders that suck at the water table somewhere far below the frozen earth through thin metal straws.  The door is ajar, knocked loose from the old hinge, and snow and ice have made a small wedge that invites the cold air in.

I hack at it with the shovel, kick the frozen leaves and dirt away from the bottom of the frame.  I slip into the door.

The heating fan spins futilely, unable to fill the small space with warm air.  The fiberboard that I put up to block the air hole in the roof has come loose.  Cobwebs stick to the frayed duct tape.  The insulating foam I’ve sprayed into the crevices of the stone wall has shrunk away.  The cold air makes my face sting.

I take off my gloves and set to resealing the old structure.  I should have come down early in the season to make sure that the pump house was airtight, I think to myself.  Sweat pours from my brow.  I feel a little dizzy, in the wrong place, hurried.

After a little while, the water began to run free in the house again.

If only I could so easily seal my soul so that my creative juices would flow freely, splash out in words, fill up big buckets of pages.  But sometimes something cold creeps in and freezes me up, drives me under the covers of darkness, where my mind idles in an uncertain and unformed state.  That’s when I have to say the soft, forgiving words, “Don’t worry.  Just go ahead.  Write,” and sit back and wait for the thaw that lets the words flow once more.