A report from the depths of winter. Frigid. Deep snow. A bright sun. The perfect day for cross country skiing, a hockey scrimmage on cleared ice and children rolling in snowdrifts. We enjoyed the day outside until sunset when it was time to return home, shed parkas and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate for the children, a marshmallow floating on top. The adults planned to brew cinnamon spice tea, perhaps with a dollop, (I love that word!) of honey. We carried the heavy antique metal tea kettle, the bottom charred by years of fire, to the sink.

However, there was a problem. The faucet was dry. No water—so we strategized. At least we could always take refuge from the penetrating cold by disappearing into a hot shower. Steam would meander through the bathroom, clouding the mirror, saturating every nook and cranny of our bodies. (Please forgive the reference to a nook and cranny, an expression that was once part of an English muffin advertisement.) However, we now encountered a second problem. There was not any water in the shower. After intensive research and an in-depth conference with one of the local residents, a plumber by trade, the solution of “The Mystery Of The Disappearing Water” trickled out. Frozen pipes. Oh no! Frozen pipes!

One family member, with a Ph.D. in science, suggested an ingenious solution: run the hot water at full force to thaw out the pipes! But, as seven year old Benji explained, we do not have any running water. Forget this solution. (We all predicted a great future for little Benji!) The exercise fanatic in our group offered to mobilize all able-bodied men, armed with shovel and pick ax, to excavate the frozen ground with hopes of discovering where the pipe was frozen and, although it was nighttime in 0° weather, we could replace the frozen pipe. Unfortunately, there were not any volunteers for this mission.

Finally, we called in Ted, our caretaker, and he arrived with a blowtorch, hopeful that the frozen pipe extended just off the basement wall and could be attacked with a flame from the torch. Disappearing into the basement we listened to the roar of the flamethrower, the grunts of Ted, and then a victory cheer. He had located the frozen spot, melted the ice and hot chocolate, tea and a shower were just over the  horizon. Bravo, Ted! Bravo!

One question remained. Why did the pipe freeze? It was time to bring back the plumber who, after extensive probing, discovered a small leak in one pipe. Because the leak was miniscule, emitting only one drop of water at a time, each drop quickly froze on the metal surface of the pipe in contrast to a rush of water which would deter any freezing because of the forceful flow.

I must admit, bloggers do not understand the language of plumbers, (unless they are blogging plumbers), but I did glean a basic understanding of the process. Every little drop of water played an important role, and when they were piled, one upon another, they could really dam up the works! What is true in pipes is also true in all aspects of life.

So, beware of the little drip!

Brant Lake

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