Can you dig it?

It’s Spring!  Which means it’s planting season.  Which means it’s digging season.  And digging is a bit like that Forrest Gump quote.  It’s ‘like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.’ 

I’ve found a few things when digging up soil in the past.  Mundane items such as large or brightly colored rocks, roots, nails, bottle caps, garden fabric (not a fan), and forgotten bulbs.  So far, I’ve never found a treasure chests though.  Disappointing, but I suppose I’ve never seen any X marks the spot on the surface either.  I’ve also never found someone’s pet cemetery, for which I am grateful.  Last week I found something suspicious though.

I was digging along side my driveway and fairly close to the street.  I was attempting to add curb appeal by planting some perennials in the barked strip.  I dug down a few inches and found some garden fabric that had to be cut away.  Underneath it was a nozzle looking item attached to what looked like a thin green tube.  I lightly touched the tube with my gloved hand and couldn’t really tell what it was.  I didn’t want to pull on it for fear of dislodging it or breaking it and possibly hurting myself.  I thought any utilities would be better protected, but I felt the need to be cautious just in case.  The safe bet would be to leave it alone until identified.

Unidentified line

I took a photo and sent it to several people. No one had a clue, but it was suggested that I call 811 and request the free locator service. This seemed like a good idea because I haven’t owned my home for very long. Other than the ugly electric box on the other side of the driveway, I had no idea where the utilities were or how far down I could dig. So I gave up for the day and decided to make the call a few days later.

I’m not sure how many people have actually destroyed utility lines in the past, but I figure it’s been enough for the companies to be aptly worried.  Worried enough to send people out within just a few hours of making the call.  

Still working from home, I went for a run on my lunch break and came back with just enough time before my remote meeting to change out of my sweaty workout clothes and into a pair of comfy sweat bottoms with a floral pattern.  Pants that I wear around the house and sometimes in the yard only.  Not enough time to change out of my tank top or take a shower.  

After my meeting, while I was fielding a work call, a knock sounded at my door.  It was one of the locators.  Since I didn’t have white spray paint to mark the places I wanted to dig, he needed me to point them out to him.  So I went outside in my unfit for public appearance sweat pants and crazy hair and proceeded to point to several places before just admitting that I would probably want to plant in most places except for the east side of my house.  He spray painted a bunch of lines for me and assured me that no lines would be in my back yard.  I needed to be careful in front though and not dig down more than a foot and to be sure to hand dig.

I remembered my real reason for him being out there and directed him towards the unknown line.  After explaining what I had found, I dug down to show him.  He was leaning slightly over and I was feeling a bit braver so I put my finger under the line in an attempt to lift it up for better viewing.  Unfortunately (this is debatable), the suspicious wire just popped right out of the ground.  

Nothing burst.  Nothing exploded.  I didn’t get zapped.  I just stood there in my flower sweat pants holding the broken handle of a rusted hand trowel.  It was rather anticlimactic.  Nothing was hurt except for my dignity.  That took a beating.  

But seriously?  Who buries a broken tool?  The garbage gets picked up every Friday.  Perhaps it was just forgotten.  I’ve almost buried tools before I guess.  I’ve certainly forgotten where I’ve set them down.  I suppose I should be thankful though.  I now know where my utilities are and how far down I can dig around them.  The only thing it cost me were a few minutes of my pride.  

Call before you dig. Even if it’s just an unidentified shovel. Happy Spring and Happy Gardening!

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