We live in what could be described as “out in the country.” When I was growing up that meant being out of town and in an atmosphere of quaintness. A place of peace and quiet where the wind breezed through willow trees and the smell of iris and wild roses sailed on those breezes. Where an occasional dog barked and kids could be heard laughing as they swam in the creek out back. Oh this is getting to be so Norman Rockwell! But you are going to be amazed at where I go from here.
So, we live ten miles out of town on a parcel of land with our house and other assorted buildings and a well. Our water giving hole in the ground delivers cool crisp untampered with fresh water that comes into my house at a wonderful 48 degrees. A well, which by ways of being human, causes us to have a—septic tank. Don’t get ahead of me. Now there are things to learn about septic tanks that really are disgusting and I don’t think this is the place to divulge all the icky details of my vast experience with septic tanks. Let me just mumble here that any and all stories that you have ever heard about country living and septic tanks are true! Right down to every crusty, musty, dusty, disgust-y detail. But they are a fact of life. Where would we be without them? Well as my dad would say, “We would be knee deep in ____ around here!” that’s where.
Septic tanks work on the premise of enzymes eating the goodies we put in there thus turning solids to liquid. Yum! The owner of a septic tank learns early on that there are things you just don’t flush or swish down the drain. That handful of paper towels you used to clean up that mess the cat made on the carpet? Not a good addition to the septic tank. Enzymes are not too happy to eat fat either. So the grease left in the pan after you fried chicken or bacon or heaven forbid, that pot of oil left over from the French fries you fried? Not a good thing to put down the drain to end up in your septic tank. One might think that just once or twice wouldn’t or couldn’t hurt the goings on down in the septic tank. But take it from one who has been on the top looking down into an open septic tank—once is too many times.
There are products that hold the key to a happy septic system. They tout the number of enzymes they have, the fierceness of their enzymes and even the life span of their enzymes. Oh to be an enzyme. One of five hundred thousand in a colony that can consume ten or twenty times their weight in solids! Again, yum! These products lead the septic system owner to buy things that are “septic” friendly. Like toilet paper.
Told you not to get ahead of me. Have you taken a gander at the toilet paper isle lately? Not to be too trendy but-LOL! How many ways are there to keep your back side fresh and happy? Well, apparently about fifty. Soft softer, softest. Strong, stronger, strongest. Long longer, longest. A mountain of white fluffiness that defies the imagination of… Well just imagine if an alien came to earth and saw the choices to be made in just the toilet paper isle. Would they be duly impressed or would they think we were all nuts to be that enamored with our back sides? Oh I need to roll along.
With a septic tank one needs to be ever vigilant in the choice of paper the “end” user uses. The brand most septic system owner’s use is not too soft, but soft enough. It is not too strong, but strong enough. It is not too thick, but thick enough. It breaks down quite easily and I like to think it is a virtual prime rib dinner to all those enzymes we have cultivated in our buried yellow submarine shaped tank out behind the wood pile. But, finally, (whew), here is my issue of the day. The makers of our choice of bung fodder have decided among themselves to do something I that I do not agree with. They have decided to abandon the brown paper roller that the roll of my toilet tissue rolls around and off of. I miss that final spin at the end of the roll. That feeling of accomplishment. That need to crush, twist and sometimes unfurl the ends. Not to mention throw it at the cat to see if he will play with it. Which he never does. Lastly we use those brown tubes to store our extension cords, wrapping them and stuffing them in the end. It is a tradition around here. Another art bites the dust.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.