As I left my house today with Eleven I discovered a group of construction workers tearing up the 327 driveway. I was expecting them, they were here to replace our old sewer line. As I was chatting with the guys in the ditch, another man, A*, started walking deliberately towards the planter with two bent wires in his hands.
"Are you dowsing?" I asked him. I had read the Orson Scott Card series, but I never actually saw it happening.
He looked a little sheepish. One of the ditch guys said, "We couldn't find the line, so we had bring out the witching rods."
Eleven immediately wanted to know how it worked. He didn't know. I asked if they were looking for water.
"We are not looking for water," said A*, "this is good for finding hollow places, like sewer lines."
We continued to pepper him with questions. He said you could dowse with any material, it didn't have to be wire. It wasn't a skill, it was something you are born with. Some people can do it, others can't. One of the ditch guys announced that he couldn't do it. At that, Eleven had to find out if she had the gift. He gave her a lesson on holding the wires, explaining to her how to keep her grip loose and that some people were innies, and others were outies-- terms referring to the neutral direction of the wires.
"Like belly buttons!" Eleven added. She quickly discovered she was not gifted with the witching power.
When we came back, they had the line exposed. The piles of black sodden earth reached our knees. I went inside to brew some pu-ehr (a kind of aged tea, the particular tea I was brewing had sat in a cave for thirty years) to mark the occasion. The smell of damp earth was stronger than usual. It is a good smell. I want to be buried naked in black california soil when I die.