Andrew Jackson looked up from his newspaper as the front door opened and son Randy stepped inside.
“Must be something serious,” said Andrew. “You forgot to knock.”
Randy kicked off his rubber boots and turned to knock loudly on the inside of the door. “Better?” he said.
“Better,” said Andrew. “What’s up?”
“I take it you haven’t looked outside,” said Randy.
Andrew thought about that. “I looked at
the thermometer and out at the pasture,” he said, “but I really just gave it a glance. Why? What did I miss?”
Randy walked over to the window and stood looking away from the direction of the pasture. “Come see for yourself,” he said.
Andrew put down his paper, got up and walked over to the window, as did Randy’s sister Jennifer, who had been too busy eating a bowl of Froot Loops to join the conversation. The three of them stared out of the window for a moment before anyone spoke.
“I see,” said Andrew. “We seem to have somehow been moved to a lakefront property.”
“Wow,” said Jennifer. “That’s a lot of water.” She paused. “Where did it all come from?”
“It came from everywhere,” said Randy. “The question is why is it not going anywhere? Except for the little bit that’s running over top of the driveway.”
“Well, the answer to that is pretty simple,” said Andrew. “Clearly something is clogging the culvert.”
“Ooh,” said Jennifer excitedly. “Maybe it’s beavers!”
“Um, yeah, not likely,” said Randy. “It’s probably just a buildup of grasses and straw and sticks and whatnot.”
“Aw rats.” Jennifer was clearly disappointed. “I wish it was beavers. I like beavers. I did a project on them last year in history class. And hey, guess how most beavers die?”
Randy frowned. “I have no idea,” he said.
“They die because trees fall on them,” said Jennifer. “And they also get caught in their dams and drown.”
“Maybe one of them got caught in our culvert,” said Randy, “and that’s why we have the return of Lake Agassiz right on our doorstep.”
“Let’s go find out,” said Andrew heading for the door. “We’re going to need a pitchfork and a crowbar and a front-end loader.”
Ten minutes later all three of them were quite comfortably ensconced in the cab of the big John Deere tractor, rolling rapidly up the driveway and through the little stream that was running over it at the lowest spot, maybe three-quarters of the way down.
“That’s a first,” said Andrew. “We’ve never had water running over the road here before.”
They got to the end of the driveway where Andrew turned the tractor around on the road and then stopped it with the front-end loader pointing at the clogged end of the culvert. A thin stream of water could be seen emerging on the other side of the driveway, but it was clear that the culvert was pretty solidly clogged.
“Let’s take a look,” said Andrew and the three of them clambered down to the ground and peered over the side of the driveway, down into the water. Randy was the first to speak.
“Is that what I think it is?” he said sounding a little incredulous.
“I don’t know,” said Andrew. “What do you think it is?”
“Well,” said Randy, “at first glance I’d have to say it looks very much like a hay bale.”
“Well then, yeah,” said Andrew, not moving from his vantage point. “It is what you think it is.”
“How would a hay bale get stuck in our culvert?” asked Jennifer, confused.
“Good question,” said Andrew. “But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t beavers.” He straightened up and turned toward the tractor. “Fortunately it won’t take long to get rid of it.”
Randy scowled. “Are we at least going to try to find out who put it there?” he asked.
Andrew shrugged. “What would be the point?” he said. “There’s about three people up the road who’d benefit from slowing the water down here, and all of them benefit more than we suffer. It’s not worth the hassle.”
He hopped up into the cab and lowered the bucket as he eased the front wheels into the water, and then with a quick lift of the bucket he scooped the offending bale out of the water and reversed the tractor back onto the road. There was a loud sucking sound as water rushed into the culvert and a second later the water was gushing out on the other side of the driveway.
Randy and Jennifer watched it for a minute. “I guess Dad’s right,” said Randy. “It’s not worth the hassle.”
Jennifer gave him an elbow in the ribs. “Yeah,” she said. “It ain’t the Assiniboine River.”
Catch Rollin Penner and the Traveling Medicine Show in Carman on June 17.