The upper end of the neighbor’s driveway stands about four feet higher than our side door entry. When we first bought this house four years ago, our yard sloped all the way from their driveway to our house, rather effectively channeling rainwater directly to the basement walls. At that point, various indirect routes brought the water into the basement. In spite of a marked slope inside the basement that led to a floor drain, we could tell when we bought the house that at some point in time, a few inches of water stood in the basement. This was not a condition that we wished to maintain.
Almost as soon as the last load of our stuff was moved into the house, we had a guy come do some leveling work with a Bobcat. That looked like so much fun, I rented one myself and played with it for a few hours. That was entertaining. My lack of expertise was so pronounced, the street was soon jammed with cars. Drivers and passengers laughed and pointed, sharing jokes with one another. “Do you think he knows which end the bucket’s on? He sure don’t know which handle controls it!” Vendors sold hotdogs and took side bets on which corner of the house or what part of the sidewalk I would first ruin. Whoever bet on the east side of the north walk won the wager.
But, it was a very small nick and not at all too high a price to pay. After placing a few ton of rock using several hundred pounds of mortar, we had ourselves a level yard and a retaining wall. Now, unless I forget that I was watering the plants on the west side of the house, we have both a dry basement and a great place to play croquet. I’m guessing that whoever coined that old saw about lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness never saw how a skid loader could change a place. Somehow, though, “It’s better to rent a Bobcat than grumble about the sewer” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. And that thing about the candle does assume we know which end to light.
We cannot control the rain or gravity. We can grade dirt and build walls, though, and we choose the places we build or buy. When we funnel trouble into our lives through our own carelessness, indifference or ignorance, we better be ready to clean up a mess.