Creating “TO DO” lists is no problem for me. Doing the things on the list is another matter.

One of the lowest items on my TO DO list, literally and figuratively, is dealing with the septic system. Those of you who have the luxury of city water do not know what you are missing when it comes to septic situations. Any plumbing problem on the property at all leads one to believe that the culprit lies within the septic system, which means you don’t want to deal with it at all.

If ignored, a septic system will solve all of its own problems. Septic tanks contain magic chemicals and bacteria that make it as good as new if left to its own devices. If left alone long enough any suspicious internal plumbing problems will be fixed by the complete lack of attention to the septic system. You can tell if your septic system is working when the grass over it is greener than the other grass. (Thanks, Erma Bombeck.) Although the grass is not greener over our septic tank, it is dead. I hope that is not a warning sign of some sort. Probably caused by the drought.

The leach field is a mysterious part of the septic system that doesn’t require any work either. The leach field is like an underground octopus that moves the vitamins out of the septic tank to somewhere in your neighbor’s yard. Like the septic tank, the leach field never fills up.

I suspected we had gremlins and plumbing problems in the old house based on strange noises. Each time the disposal in the kitchen was turned on, the water in every toilet in the house would gurgle and swirl like a witch’s brew. The action in the toilets was threatening but just short of violent. Could there be a blockage? Is it possible that the magic of the Mr. Septic was waning?

The undrainable kitchen sink with enough water in it to support a family of guppies was the final confirmation. It was time to pour Drano or something like it down the pipes. That solution sounded easy but nothing happened.

It was time to call a plumber. The years of throwing pasta and gummy bears down the disposal had caught up to us. It was Friday night. A group was coming for dinner on Saturday.

Which brings me to back to the TO DO list and another under appreciated feature of Wine Country. A characteristic of many who are part of the fabric of wine country is the DO part of the TO DO list.

When I called my favorite plumber, explained the problem and asked when he could be here, he replied, “How about now? I’ll be over in a bit.” He is not alone. Many are the people in wine country who are more about doing than creating lists. Need that vine pruned? Done. Need to deal with that dead raccoon? Done. Need to burn that pile? Done. No lists involved, just action. It is a trait that is highly undervalued and yet another attraction of our special valley. We are surrounded by doers, not list makers.

The plumber did come right over with a contraption that looked like a vacuum cleaner with a serpent-like device attached. The serpent on the machine went diving into the nether reaches of the plumbing and the world was right once more. It broke up the clog and let the septic tank do its work again.

I can now get back to making lists and rely on the local “doers.” I am glad you are around. And for those dandies on city water without a septic system, eat your heart out.

Rich Moran splits his time between the City and Wine Country and really does appreciate city water when available.

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