We bought our home from the second owners, who had lived there for fifty years. They had purchased it from the family who originally built it. It was a good home with a nice view of Puget Sound. It sat at the top of the hill and looked 30 feet down on the alley, which we had no access to, and a natural valley that led down to sea level. We were about a quarter mile from the water’s edge.
Our home sat on two of the three lots that was our yard. Our driveway came down from the street and half-way encircled our home, our three car carport, and large asphalt area where kids used to shoot baskets. After planning to repair some small damage along with wear and tear we were ready to bring in an expert and reseal the surface and add a new topping.
The expert had just given me an initial estimate. I decided to save money and do the prep work myself: fill some cracks and pressure wash. I figured I would start with the weed wacker and give an nice finished edge to the driveway. An hour job . . . maybe. Once I wacked a foot or two I knew I was in trouble. I found more asphalt under the grass. I drove to Ace Hardware, a four mile round trip distance, and bought a spade, not the ones with a spear shape to the blade, but a rectangular one. I slid the spade along the asphalt rammed it directly at the grass and then pried up. After three or four rams I realized that the grass had been encroaching on the driveway for years . . . decades . . . multiple decades. It looked like the driveway was one foot wider than I anticipated all the way down and around. I took a break and made some sandwiches and took a couple apples with me . . . and some golden Oreos and went back out to the driveway.
By early evening I was about ready to call it quits for the day, when I rammed, and rammed, and rammed pushing the grass back over two feet. After ramming on both sides it looked like I had a short path in the midst of the curve leading to the area where the basketball hoop might have been.
After a couple more rams, the asphalt ended, but I struck concrete. In the dwindling twilight I had what looked like concrete steps going down with concrete sides. My first thought was to dig out my old camping lantern, but with the piles or dirt and a lantern burning I imagined myself as a pirate digging up a treasure or perhaps an entrance to a crypt. On that note, I decided I would just wait for morning to explore further.
My wife Marilyn was away for the weekend, so I had no one to talk to. I got ready for bed and poured myself a rum and coke as I watched a 2012 production of Treasure Island starring Eddie Izzard as Long John Silver. I dropped off and dreamed of booty and a swashbuckling adventure. I was up before dawn. I hadn’t had breakfast, yet and didn’t eat much of my dinner the night before. I walked to the driveway to make sure I hadn’t dreamed my own fantasy world and headed to the dirt piles in the semi-dark. As I approached the down stairs it looked like the mounds I started had grown. In the dark I stumbled over my spade and the mounds exploded. Three or four demons ran by me as I turned around stumbled over something alive and fell forward . . . head first down the steps to hell. I just lay there feeling the fool and listening with my heart beating away and my feet sticking up out of the stair well like a human wheelbarrow. There were no sounds and no movements. As the sun rose up I did too. I pushed my shoulder and head up and looked around. I really felt the fool, but no one had heard me scream . . . well, anyway I hoped I hadn’t screamed.
Even in the morning light I could easily make out the remnants of last night’s dinner and fresh raccoon tracks. “I need some coffee,” I moaned and went back to the kitchen for fortification.
After some bacon and eggs, I tackled the stairway. Besides dirt there were rocks and part of an old railroad tie. By late afternoon I had reached the bottom of the stairs and a metal door with no door knob. Once again I began dreaming. What might be behind the door. Was this an old bomb shelter? The house had been built in the 1950s. Could it be a private tomb? A hidden lair for sex perverts? A barn find 1949 Lincoln Continental? I thought, “Should I call the press?” Then I thought nobody reads newspapers anymore, anyway. I drove back to Ace Hardware and returned with a crowbar and a can of WD-40. I squirted the WD-40 on the hinges and after an hour of working different angles on the door with the crow bar I was able to open it wide. I found myself face to face with a wall of solid dirt. I called it a day.
No Treasure Island, but possibly a bomb shelter, probably no perverts. The next morning I drove around to the alley and estimated where I might find the end of the concrete room filled with dirt. I had to hack at the Japanese Knot Weed, and the black berries. Finally my machete struck wood. After pulling and shoving vines and brambles, I found myself looking at two old wooden garage doors leading into the hillside much like the home of Bilbo Baggins. A thick, rusty lock held the handles of the doors tightly together protecting the realm of Bilbo or Frodo. A slight tug on the lock pulled the hasps away. The door soon had a gap big enough to see remnants of a beam, supports, and moss covered cedar shake roofing on the floor of what must have once been an old garage . . . perhaps. Dirt and debris rose upward to meet the lawn.
Later that evening Marilyn arrived back home. “Did you miss me,” she asked. “Did you have sweet dreams?” “Well,” I said, “I learned what dreams are made of.” She gave me a warm kiss and I felt brave and safe and at ease. “What’s with all the piles of dirt?” I smiled and said, “Possibilities . . . all kinds of possibilities.”