The Pit of Past Despair

Let me begin by explaining that “The Pit of Despair” is the local name for a long-standing undeveloped site in the heart of downtown Asheville, whose fate our community leaders can’t seem to resolve to anyone’s satisfaction.  Should it be a park, a plaza, a parking deck, a meditation center, or a hotel?  Right now, it’s a city-block nothingburger that primarily serves as a gathering place for our area’s homeless population.

If it were up to me, I’d vote for a frozen custard stand at the Pit of Despair, operated by the same folks who run the Forbush drive-in in my hometown.  I’ve never had a frozen custard (never call it ice cream!) that delivered the lip-caressing delectability of a Forbush cone.

Forbush’s has served its signature vanilla, chocolate, black raspberry, butter pecan (and many other flavors-of-the-day) frozen custard for many decades of summer evenings as lines gather in front of the service windows and the bugs enshroud the parking lot lights.  Forbush’s owners would make a killing here, assuming they could find good help and afford our sky-high rents.  They would turn our pit of despair into yum-filled pleasure.

Speaking of, I have my own pit of despair, a relatively small plot of dirt at the front corner of our house (see below) which has served for several years as the site of a water feature built by some folks who claimed they knew what they were doing, but as I’ve learned over the years as a homeowner, that’s what everyone says.

Some of you may recall the relatively modest 2016 iteration of this feature — here it was in all its zen glory.  But things could not be left well-enough alone, and we hired those experts to expand the feature, adding leaf-and-sludge-collecting pools that maintenance-wise were quite the opposite of zen.  (Would that be nez?)  Roots from nearby shrubs penetrated the pond liner they installed and enshrouded the pump more densely than the clouds of bugs around the lights at Forbush’s.

I decided that this spring would be the last time I strap on my knee-protectors, dredge last year’s mess out of the water feature and get it running again.  Get someone else to do it?  It’s hard enough finding people to do muscle jobs let alone unappealing projects like this.  Plus, as you can imagine, I have a trust issue.  If you want something done right…

So I’m now in the midst of my project of retro-sizing the water feature into one of those “pool-less” types where the water just cascades into a bed of pebbles.  No more pools, no more leaves, no more sludge.  I’ve dismantled most of the rocks that our experts added.  (Note sledgehammer in photo, prominently displayed for effect.)  I’ve bought a new liner.  I’m ready to clean the roots out of the pump and then create a new layout with a much smaller footprint, restoring the walkway to our deck without a big bite taken out of it.

Lest you think I’m complaining, I’m trying very hard to take a positive stance.  I’m getting exercise.  No one — including me — is pressuring me to complete this by a certain date.  The end result will be, by definition, what I want.  And I will have a bunch (no, a plethora!) of rocks left over, which I can use to stabilize slopes elsewhere on our lot — assuming I can find a muscular rock-lifting guy to help me move them where I want them.

So don’t cry for me, Argentina, or Uruguay.  Our current pit of despair will once again be a quiet, elegant, burbling corner of our landscape, in harmony with the surrounding plants and the controlling, sometimes cranky guy that oversees the harmony.

Read 3 comments below | Read other posts in Life

3 responses to The Pit of Past Despair

  1. Dorothy says:

    Regardless of its size or sludge, it’s a good spot for bears to wash their berries ????????

  2. Eric says:

    What’s that term? “Home-moanership”? I’m sure that you will come up with something aesthetically appealing!

  3. Clay Tarver says:

    Nez to zen. An entropy-reducing project. We need more of these.

Leave a Reply