Jason Kelly ’95 | October 22, 2019
Sometimes, when the rain falls like an Irish blessing, we sit on the front porch and listen to the drops rustle leaves and settle in whispering swishes on the ground — on grass and pavement and swelling puddles just springing up. Little streams form on the sidewalk and spill into the street, flowing toward the sewers and gurgling down into whatever subterranean labyrinth leads the water wherever it goes.
During those relaxing interludes, no thoughts arise about the processes at work, either natural or engineered. Not about the gift of life falling from the sky, nor about the infrastructure and ingenuity that controls how and where the water flows, and that spares us illness and death when we drink from our taps.
This is rain as a home water feature. An amenity.
When the water starts to seep into the basement, still rising even a day or two after the storm passes, the serene pleasure of a rain shower takes on a different character, something more like menace. Sloshing around in dirty water inside the house — a groundwater river feeding a new basement lake — reorients the mind around water’s relentless power. The threat never recedes from memory after a flood, especially the third or fourth in just a few years. Water’s capacity to overwhelm our preventative measures becomes a recurring stress dream, raising an ominous specter of worse things to come. And I say that as someone who has never experienced more than inconvenience from these inundations.
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