Friday, February 8, 2013

The Pounding

My mother once told me of an old Ozark tradition that was apparently the hillbilly equivalent of a bridal shower in the first half of the last century. The ladies in the area would give the young young bride* what was known as a "pounding."**  In order to help stock the new couple's larder, each guest would bring a pound of flour, or corn meal, or beans, coffee ... you get the idea. Each item was well appreciated, and you can bet the person that brought the coffee was one of the more well-to-do ladies of the group. I think of that every time I see a couple registered for a flat screen television or a $500 cookware set.

This post is not at all about that. It's about football. Sort of. The Large Southern University where I work is expanding their stadium. Apparently there are over 100,000 people that will pay ridiculous money to sit on bleachers in the heat/cold/rain/etc. to watch the local sports team play, so we're going to need more bleachers. As with all construction, it starts with the dirt work and foundation.

Since we don't have anything that resembles bedrock down here, big structures are built on great numbers of concrete pilings that have been driven 25, or 50, or 150 feet into the ground. If you're not familiar with the concept, take a bowl of pudding, stick 30 or 40 toothpicks about halfway in, and then set a graham cracker on top. Go on, I'll wait. (I would recommend chocolate.)

As you can imagine, the process of driving foot-square concrete poles into the ground is a noisy affair. And it's been going on right outside of our building since just after Thanksgiving. Every day. All day. From before I get to work until the time I leave.

Put this on a loop and let it run for a couple of days. You will start to get the idea.

It's not quite constant. Constant might be better. They pound for what seems like forever and then it stops. About the time sanity returns it starts again. And the loudness varies. Yesterday they were on the other side of the stadium. Sometimes they are about fifty feet from the window of my lab. On those days it's hard to carry on a conversation.

I have no idea how much longer this will go on. I thought they were almost finished, as the stack of pilings was diminishing quickly. Then last week I was almost run over by a truck delivering more.

It could be a long Spring.

* And we are talking young. My grandmother was married at fourteen.

** I know, right. I don't even know which direction to go with that.


  1. every bride deserves a good pounding.

    my new job has me in a new office. the first few weeks there was massive construction in several labs - concrete grinding. dust, noise and general annoyances.

    the next few weeks? problems with the steam heat. my office got down to 48F one day.

    through all of it, i sit cheerfully at my computer, so very delighted to have landed this gig that they can't make me unhappy.

    but if it went on endlessly? if i had to really THINK for this job? different story...

  2. The pounding -- oh my -- it goes on and on...sorry it is as maddening as the water torture...your GR was 14?! holy cow...