Rivers in the Basement

     Settling down for a relaxing evening, you hear a tell-tale dripping somewhere within the house; out of place to the orchestra of rain and wind outside.

     You close your eyes as an involuntary groan escapes your lips.

     The logical place to start your search is at the top of the house, for isn’t it a usual occurrence to find those lovely damp spots on the ceiling? Careful searching reveals nothing amiss with the roof. You breathe a sigh of relief.

     The next stop would be plumbing, though proficiency at plumbing is not one of your strong suits. Bathroom: toilet, sink and bathtub all working as they should. Kitchen: Sink is fine. Seriously worrying about having to do dishes by hand, you tentatively approach the dishwasher. You let out the breath you were holding. It’s fine, too.

     As you open the basement door to check out the washer and dryer, the sound grows ominously louder as the cold damp rushes up to greet you. Tiptoeing down the basement stairs reveals a sight that involuntarily causes your hand to connect to your forehead in a smack of despair. Waterfalls appear in places that should be dry, spilling their contents upon the floor. Rivers from every corner of the basement converge to a centralized location and drain into a designated spot. Following each river carefully reveals the suspect places of entrance. The thawing ground, saturated with winter’s snowfall, spills the heavily falling rain into the place of least resistance, which is any weakened place that can be found within your house.

     An otherwise dry pantry, normally a safe place to store precious supplies, has become a dripping and damp cave of soggy boxes. Hours are spent cleaning up what nature released into the haven of your otherwise dry home.

     You make lists of preventative measures to tackle when and if the rain stops. A furtive check of the week’s forecast reveals your worst fear, however: more rain. Each night’s energies will be spent mopping, wiping and asking yourself, “I live here why?”

Ripples of Life

     We cannot go back in time and second-guess choices we have made. If our choices had been different, we and all those we touch, even briefly, would not be who they are. The choices we make impact many lives, be it good or bad….sometimes we never know which.

     Imagine throwing a pebble into a still calm lake and watching the ripples continue on and on until they fade to nothing, leaving no evidence behind…this is our lives. If another pebble is thrown in before the first ripples fade, the ripples from the new will intertwine with the ripples from the first…creating something entirely new. No matter where a new pebble is thrown, it will impact the ripples of each previously there. Each stone and each set of ripples intertwine with those who came before and those who come after ~ creating newness ~ creating a unique life.  

Adulthood = Brown Walls


     Someone asked me once, when did I realize that I had become a grown up. I didn’t have to ponder very long for an answer. The defining moment for me was the day my 18-month old decided (without previous consultation with me) that his bedroom walls, floor and crib needed painting. Now all in all that wouldn’t be a problem, even for an 18-month old; messy but doable. It was his choice of color and its subsequent odor I objected to. The content of his diaper was the choice of my budding Picasso.  

     At 19 ½ years old, in nursing school and a toddler, I thought I was pretty responsible, only calling Mom for advise and assistance 4-5 times per week. When the normal time for my son to wake from his nap had come and passed, I tiptoed over to listen at the door. The silence broken from time to time with the giggle only a small child can emit, “Ah, he’s playing quietly”, I thought to myself as I went back to my book on Anatomy and Physiology. 30-minutes passed without notice, until loud peels of laughter interrupted my study. As I walked closer to his door, I detected that certain smell which let me know it was time to do my least favorite duty, or so I thought. 

     I opened the door to a sight that still causes my eyes to roll up into the back of my head, even after he has grown with children of his own. The walls were smeared with childish abandon in diaper goo. The rails of the crib looked as if a large hand covered in melted chocolate had attempted to polish each and every one.  Where the rug left off and wood floors commenced, there were swirls of a brown smelly substance that needed no investigation. In his attempt to create a masterpiece, my son was covered head to toe with his “paint.” Upset as I was, my son’s two large eyes dancing and blinking at me in happy innocence, wiped away any trace of exasperation I could have felt.

     In shock I realized that THIS was something I could NOT call my mother for help, as I had so frequently done during the 18-months of being a young single, mother.  It was one of those things that I must take care of on my own in a timely manor, without procrastination. As I spent the next hour or two cleaning, it occurred to me…

Yes, I had indeed had become a grown-up.

My Favorite Window

     As a student mentor in Short Story, I was asked to participate in the first writing assignment in order to introduce myself to the students I would be mentoring. The assignment was to creatively write about the view from your favorite window, weaving into it aspects of your life. My window immediately came to from The Lake House.

Window to my World

     My window was found later in life, as sometimes is the case with treasures. What I affectionately call “The Lake House” is shared half of the time with Shawn, the other treasure in my life (also found later in life). Living in town has its advantages (which I do three days per week), but life in the country nourishes and soothes my soul. I learned to love the freshness of country air, melodious birds, and insect songs and learn to respect the peace found there from the summers I spent at my grandparent’s farm deep in the Ozarks of Arkansas. Those summers engrained deep within me a desire for the easiness of a simpler time with life not surrounded by neighbors and everything concrete.

     While a window over a kitchen sink is a common occurrence in many houses, the view from this particular window fills me with peace and love, not only for the house but also for the man who owns it. I gaze out across the wide expanse of lawn (which he is faithful in mowing, not a job I get to partake in) to the time worn and weather-beaten barn. Large and painted red with white-framed windows and a metal roof wearing rust colored patches; it has become a landmark to the community. As I sip my coffee in the early morning, I can see the hammock newly installed this year. A hammock large enough for two wanting to enjoy a summer day spent reading or talking. Planning how, as a couple we will slowly transition the land over to a sustainable little hobby farm. Daydreaming of a small orchard on the hill, a flock of egg-laying hens, perhaps a goat for milk (goat cheese is fabulous) and a large garden. Cooking together our own fresh foods with the herbs and wild raspberries dotted around the yard. Hopeful times glancing out the window reveal rain clouds on the horizon, which brings the blissful promise of listening to the rhythmic music played on the metal roof.    

     My eyes settle on the porch swing we hung last summer. Not on a porch but on the old frame left standing from a previous gate, when the property housed horses and cows. Our swing faces the lake and the west, beckoning one to sit and watch the sun go down in a blaze of orange and gold fire. Remaining on the swing until nightfall opens your eyes to the wonder of the stars that are brighter where city lights cannot reach them. 

     The Lake House and Shawn are my haven from the craziness of my life, work and school. The images from my window many times have inspired me to take pencil and paper, writing the thoughts and feelings that are evoked from the changing of the seasons and fluctuating weather which alter this incredible view and my emotions.

Summer Storms

     Still days. Simmering heat draws upward lines from the blacktop, softening in the suns intensity. Clouds gather and build in the distant horizon, like an unseen army ~ still and waiting. Slowly then with increasing speed, storm clouds advance with steady determination, ever changing in shape and color.  White, then grey and green until the vision becomes most ominous black exuding a power beyond compare. White-hot jagged lines of electrical power dance their way across the sky and to the scorched earth. Not a sound is heard as trees, grass and flowers are silent ~ No wind to dance. With an expectant pause, nature takes a breath ~ ~ ~ ~

     The force that has danced with fury since time began releases its torrential rain, cooling what it previously heated to its boiling point. Clouds roll with great speed across the plains to a predetermined destination.  Sporadically wrecking havoc along its way. On the backside of its anger, sunshine and rainbows wait to remind us of a promise made many years ago by “The One Who Orders” the path of nature’s journey.  As the skies after the storm ~ be still and know   


     After the storm, puddles remain. The young at heart come out of their shelters to play.  A shimmering haven of fresh rainwater awaits bare feet ~ both young and old to dip toes into its coolness. Three teens ~ an aunt break into peels of laughter as the splashing games begin. 

     Drops fly from feet kicked in joy, showering upon heads and laughing faces.  Jumping, running and splashing continues till not a dry spot remains. Weeks of tension fade from the elder. Summer energy flows from the young and never tires. Heart felt comments could be heard “This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time”. Stress is forgotten as the cool fresh water heals with the laughter of nature. Wiping tears of gaiety mixed with rain, age gaps are not important and fade with the fun. As darkness falls, spirits are filled with the joy and peace that comes from visiting a moment from childhood. 

© Avie Layne 2012