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Of sinkholes and the impending doom of mankind
Jeff Whitten NEW
Jeff Whitten is managing editor of the Bryan County News and Coastal Courier, his favorite papers. - photo by File photo

You’ve probably heard it said before – though probably not by real estate agents, who tend not to tell you this sort of stuff: 

“You don’t own your home. It owns you.”

It’s true. Don’t let them put one over on you and tell you you’re in charge. You ain’t. 

I was reminded once again of the relationship between my wife’s old house and me a few weeks ago while breaking a stick to put in an outdoor fire pit to knock the chill off of a Friday night. 

I was standing on the patio I built in the backyard a decade or two ago by scavenging bricks from all the subdivisions going up in South Effingham at the time and using them as pavers. This was before vinyl was invented or I would have never found bricks, but never mind. And subdivisions are still going up but it’s harder to find uses for scrap vinyl. Or the room to put anything, for that matter. 

Anyway, there I was, building a fire. I grabbed a piece of a pine tree and stomped it with my right foot to break it so I could chuck it in the fire pit. The world hasn’t been exactly the same since. 

My foot, which was inside both a sock and a Croc, just like the left one, didn’t stop after it went through the stick and met brick. It just kept on going with me and bricks following it down through some empty space into some sort of lagoon. 

Except it wasn’t a lagoon. I’ll leave that part to your imagination, but know that at least for a while we were uncertain exactly what had transpired. I thought maybe it was mutant giant mole crickets and a sinkhole. 

My wife thought it was a hole left by long gone roots that had once belonged to an old beat up pear tree we’d had removed after Hurricane Irma flooded the house. 

Whatever it was, it was there. What wasn’t down there was dirt. I took a couple days off to move the bricks by hand and wheelbarrow so I could get a better look, and after I did figured maybe the wisest and cheapest course of action would be to simply fill the hole up and hope it didn’t happen again. Except there was something below that looked like it might’ve been our septic tank. The 800 pound concrete gorilla in the yard.  

And it sort of just sat down there looking up at us in an accusing sort of way. Lurking, if you will. 

Rather than have it look at me every time I went outside, I covered the by now very large hole up with a tarp and we got someone familiar with the construction of the house to weigh in on what the heck we needed to do short of blowing it up with dynamite – which I have on more than one occasion thought would be the most economically feasible solution to many a problem with that old house. 

As it turned out, well, we’re in the process of having the problem fixed by what I hope are experts. 

I almost would rather sell up and move to some remote private island where I wouldn’t have to listen to sirens from nearby Highway 21, nor the roar of traffic, nor the neighbors, who as a rule couldn’t be more annoying if they came armed with trampolines. 

But remote private islands are hard to come by these days, since most seemed to be owned by people who either inherited them or by people with so much money their money makes more money than most people earn working a 60-hour week, me included. 

Besides, well, my wife is fond of the place and I am fond of her. And as I’ve said, I don’t own the place. It owns me. I haven’t got a choice in the matter, unless I revolt, and I’m too old and fond of cookies and grilling country style ribs for that nonsense.  

And so it will go until I am bundled up in old geezer diapers (hopefully at least a few years from now) and sent off to a Granny Ranch down the road to be assaulted with checkers and card games and The Andy Griffith show reruns until at long last I get to check out and see what’s on the other side of the curtain. And that will be OK, too. 

Truth is, none of it will matter 100 years from now when our descendants are living in a Georgia paved over and planted with strip malls from one end of the state to the other, with lots of fun things to spend your money on as long as you’ve got it and can spend it indoors while the outside temperature hovers around 120 and the humidity does the same and all the traffic’s stuck in traffic. 

In the meantime, we’ll get the septic system fixed and go on with our lives until the next catastrophe strikes. 

And in that regard, I’m thinking of setting up an office pool of sorts and taking bets on what will happen and when – for example, the side of house falls off, Oct. 20, 2022. 

If you’re interested in playing, give me a holler.  

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