Gunking Out



Today was the day for those disgusting November outdoor chores that I keep putting off. I am glad that it is raining, giving me the excuse to put it off. Yet, the cascading waterfall over the eaves trough that isn’t draining, making a lake out of the flowerbed, and the leaves molding on the deck, keep nagging at me for attention. No one else is claiming this fun chore.

This afternoon, the clouds cleared for an entire hour and the sun showed its face. It was time. I donned the warm coat, but didn’t bother with sunscreen.

I eased into the experience, first hosing off the deck’s collection of half rotted leaves accumulated from the last three storms. Now that the trees are bare, there is no excuse to wait.

The still dripping eaves trough, and the pool of rainwater flooding the flowerbed called my name. Dark clouds were moving in, signaling the return of the November monsoons. Time was running out.

I wrestled with the ladder, wondering if it will teeter a little too far and send me flying.

“Death by downspout” — will that be my obituary headline?

With one hand on the ladder, and one hand dipping into the great ice cold black water and whatever has morphed into existence here, I plunged in.

I gunked out the eaves trough and the top of the downspout, liberating the thick wad of matted conglomeration of leaves, moss clumps, shingle grit, and whatever else lurks in the eaves troughs.

Webster’s doesn’t think “gunked” is a word, and refers me to “muck”, which can be a verb. I like “gunked” better. It sounds more like the near gagging I experience as my hand pulls out a wad of something, be it gunk or muck. And, that special feeling of black ooze dripping down my arm.

My mind envisions the swamp monster in that old Fifties horror movie, “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. Will it grab me and haul me into the depths of the morass?

I thought of wearing gloves, but, really, nothing gets the job done better than bare fingers fully immersed in icy rainwater and gunk. Dealing with sodden gloves would only compound the experience. You try to fling the evil smelling mess out onto the lawn, but of course, some of the liquid runs down your arm, and splashes on your face and clothes.

The downspout, finally liberated, gurgles to life, releasing a torrent of black gunk and water.

To anticipate a tweet, “the swamp has been drained”.

I climb down from my precarious perch, and find the hose to rinse off my fingers and arm, and everywhere else the mess had landed.

One last wrestle with the hose coils and the ladder, and I am done, ready for a warm house, some serious hand washing and something hot to drink, as the first splatter of the new rain cloud strikes my face.


–Neal Lemery 11/28/17