Most of the houses in our small hamlet have wells, built in the time before water was piped directly into our homes. Periodically Himself peers down through the metal grill that tops our well to check how high or low the water level is.
It is of no real concern to me, but for him it seems to be a source of continuing interest.
"Only six feet from the top," he announced today. In recent years he has more often said, "the water level's very low." He dropped a weighted rope down to get an idea of the depth. It's about thirty-six feet.
But that's not all that he's dropped. He pulled the measuring rope back up but he wasn't as successful with a galvanised bucket that he'd lowered. I don't know why he lowered a bucket in the first place, perhaps he was wanting to check how clean the water supply was. In the event the bucket became detached from the rope and stayed down in the depths of the well.
There have been any number of attempts at retrieval. Every male friend and neighbour who comes to the house has to peer down the well. They stand around it, heads bowed, as though at a religious ceremony. "Still there? asked Dave, calling in with his dog. Our neighbour, Roger, brought a grappling hook. No success. More mournful gazing down the well before he took the hook back home. The bucket lies on it's side, the handle inaccessible.
"If you shine a torch down at night I might be able to see what to do a bit more clearly."
There is talk of trying a strong magnet.
It's been going on for months and I'm utterly fed up with hearing about this bucket. "What were you doing with it anyway?" I ask.
"I thought we could water the garden if we get another drought," he tells me.
"But never mind, the bucket's got a hole in it anyway."