Septic issue teaches smelly lesson

Having been born and raised in the city, I’ve had to learn a few things about country life. Along those lines, an old title by comedian Erma Bombeck, “The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank,”comes to mind.

That may be true in the summer, but not so much when winter still shows snow on the ground and back flush comes into your bathtub and shower.

Let me back track a few weeks. My aide, Christina, was giving me a shower when we both noticed the water wasn’t going down the drain for some reason. Christina said at the time that we should shut the water off and “get you out of the shower before it gets totally gross.”

At that time Herman wasn’t home, so we couldn’t let him know about the drain until later on when he got back. By the time he got home Christina was gone for the day, and I forgot about it too.

I remember he asked me what had happened in the shower when he saw some residue on the shower floor. After I told him he got a plunger and started to plunge the drain rapidly. The next time it happened when our Culligan water treatment system was running. It started flooding our bathroom floor, so Herman shut the water system off completely.

Herman called various local plumbing and septic services to get the lowdown on whether a plugged drain or over-full septic tank was likely to be the problem.

We’ve lived here since 2001 as year-round residents and have never had the septic pumped, so I guess it was about due. When the consensus pointed toward a septic issue, Herman made arrangements for Green Pines Septic of Fort Plain to come do the deed. Herman shoveled off some of the septic tank top so it could be located easily.

Let me tell you what happened the following day with my aide Shannon and myself while Herman was out for the day. Herman had made arrangements for the septic people to come over early in the morning. Shannon and I were ready, or so we thought. When they came, Shannon rushed to the backyard to show them where the spot was. They quickly started to dig, rake and suction the septic tank. But we couldn’t believe the odor that came with it. I had Shannon get a can of air fresher and spray to make the room smell better. To say the very least, the air freshener helped.

I can’t go into very deep details, but I can tell you this: The septic workers earned their pay. This is something that neither Shannon nor I could ever do for a job.

They were only here for a half-hour, which surprised us, and they left the yard looking good.

Here’s to a free-flowing septic and drain and a warm spring ahead. After this past winter, I think we all deserve it.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website,