Column: Prevailing against the elements

I’ve always enjoyed rain storms. The distinct sound of rain drops on a large skylight in my childhood home will stick with me for a long time, as will the recurring experience of watching a curtain of rain advance across the lake in a discrete line, roiling the water as it came.

The last two months have brought a lot of water, and you’d think I’d be thrilled. I was, for a while.

Then, just more than a month after my wife and I moved into our first house, some of the rainstorm came in. Not through the roof, or a window; no, it came in through a crack in the foundation.

We discovered this the morning after a particularly forceful downpour a couple weeks ago. While we were fortunate enough not to be wading through ankle- or knee-deep water in the basement, the carpet and underlying pad had become saturated with rainwater. It squished as we walked.

Cue first-time homeowners’ panic.

Next, cue a few days of meagerly effective efforts at containment, among them the rental of a carpet dryer and the purchases of a dehumidifier and wet/dry vacuum. Our towels (all but the wedding gift variety) worked overtime, soaking up water on the floor for a few minutes at a time before being cycled out and whisked off to the dryer.

On day three, we thought we had solved our problem (on the input side, that is) by cleaning out our flora-clogged gutters. It turns out that water bypassing the gutter’s redirection and instead cascading into a flower bed doesn’t bode well for keeping control of that water.

But, it kept raining, and despite functioning gutters, still, in the water seeped — slowly, but enough such that we ended up tearing out a whole room of carpet and padding. Thankfully, a carpeted basement room was not among the more cherished parts of the home, for us.

But, the basement is, for now, dry. It’s even rained a few times since, with not so much as a drip coming in through the foundation.

Even if it does, we’ve now got the tools and knowledge to handle it.

And that, after the whole ordeal, is what I came away with: a sense of having prevailed over something difficult and having grown through the experience. I don’t harbor ill feelings toward rainstorms, nor does my stomach knot every time my footsteps or thoughts stray down into the basement.

Instead, I remember something my wife said to me the night we took up the carpet. We’d decided to make an evening of it, having at it with the accompaniment of a good Pandora station and a glass or two of wine.

She paused in between bouts of vacuuming up water and scraping up carpet-padding adhesive, and said to me, “This sucks, but there isn’t anybody I’d rather be handling it with.”

I’m glad her wedding vows were a little more overtly positive, but the sentence still brought an enduring smile to my face. Having another person fighting with you, against the elements or whatever else have you, is indispensable.

I might experience a little twinge of worry listening to rain on our rooftop, for the time being. But I know that, even if the basement becomes soggy once again, or anything else that follows sucks, I’ve got someone ready to tough it out with me.

Contact Sean Miner at [email protected]