Nick arrived about 30 minutes after sunrise, earlier than I expected because when we talked the previous evening, he promised only to get there as soon as he could. I walked out to meet him. We shook hands, and I thanked him for coming quickly.
“You sounded like you might have a problem,” he said.“I don’t think it’s a big problem just yet, but I want to keep it from becoming one.”
He glanced at the Wilderness System Tarpon 140 strapped to my truck’s roof rack.
“What kind of boat is that?”
“It’s a kayak. A fishing kayak.”
“A fishing kayak?”
It seemed like he wanted more information, so I explained that it is a sit-on-top style kayak with a molded seat and rod holders. “This one has a rudder, but most kayaks don’t.” The more I talked, the sillier it sounded. Nick seemed to be losing interest.
“Going fishing?” he asked.
“Yes. Well … maybe later.”
“You said you’re not draining?”
We discussed what could be causing the disturbing gurgle echoing from the main drainage pipe under my house. When every drop of wastewater flowing from your home drains into tank buried in the yard and then mysteriously distills into a labyrinthian maze of pipes and gravel, a gurgle is not the sound you want to hear while showering or when the dishwasher is running or as the washing machine is draining.
Nick grabbed a T-shaped rod and shovel and we walked to the north end of the house, where he inspected the yard like a surgeon planning exploratory abdominal surgery, all the while sharing more details than I really needed to know about the design and function and occasional malfunction of sewer systems.
“The tank’s here,” he said, walking off a square about the size of a small automobile.
“Yes,” I said, unsure if I’d been asked something or told something.
Wishing to be of help, I pointed to a stain of water that had seeped from the cleanout plug. This seemed to be of little concern.
“This is a two-tank system,” Nick observed.
I was again uncertain if I had been told something or asked something.
“Randy put this in.”
“Uh, yes, he did,” I said.
He nodded knowingly, as though a secret had passed between us.
“He does good work.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “He does.”
Nick explained that if the baffle system in the main tank becomes clogged, it could restrict the water flow into the second tank. This apparently is not good. There also was some concern about the pipe connecting the two tanks possibly being damaged, although I could not imagine how that could have happened.
I was starting to think about how much all this was going to cost. Nick dropped the shovel and pushed the T-shaped rod into the ground.
“Where?” he asked.
“Where are you going fishing?”
I was planning meet a colleague at Beaver Lake in Anderson County for the afternoon, and then travel to Lincoln County and fish Cedar Creek Lake the next day.
“Beaver Lake,” I said.
Nick left the T-shaped metal rod sticking in the ground and picked up the shovel.
“Where’s that at?”
“It’s in Anderson County.”
He handed me the shovel and knelt to inspect a slight depression where he suspected the connecting pipe exited the main tank. A concerned look crossed his face.
“This isn’t good. See this low spot. The pipe might have collapsed.”
He stood and reached for the shovel.
“Beaver Lake. Is it a good place to fish?”
Because of my work, people sometimes mistakenly assume I am some kind of a fishing expert or have inside information about secret fishing spots. This is hardly ever the case. The only thing I knew about Beaver Lake is that it covers about 150 acres and is located in a pretty spot southwest of Lawrenceburg. I’d fished it once, and the trip was memorable only because while fishing near the dam I reached for the canoe paddle and knocked an Orvis Silver Label 3 weight fly rod over the side, and then nearly flipped the boat trying to grab it. I didn’t capsize the canoe but watched helplessly as the rod and matching reel disappeared into the deepest part of the lake.
“I’ve only been to Beaver Lake once,” I said. “I really don’t know too much about it.”
I asked Nick if he was a fisherman.
“Not much these days. Too busy.”
He pushed the shovel into the grass and turned a spade full of dirt.
“Let’s take a look.”I walked inside and called John to say that I would be arriving late, if at all.