Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26: Flood

I woke this morning to the sound of rain dripping off the eaves and ringing against the propane tanks right outside the bedroom window. Looking out that window, I was struck first by what a morass of snow, mud, dead leaves, and branches our backyard has become thanks to this torrential downpour combined with gale winds. But at least we're up on a bluff. Part of our neighbors' yard is in the river's floodplain, and the mighty Megunticook was running high today. The normally placid waterway had swollen to fill its banks and was dramatically spilling over its edges. A visible side-stream had carved its own course through the remnant snow in our neighbor's yard. Outside, the river roared wild and fresh in my ears. Crows, the only visible birds, seemed invigorated by all this water action.

Later, I learned that my parents were dealing with their own water issues. Thanks to a leaky foundation and a power outage that caused the sump pump to shut off, they had been up all night dealing with a flooding basement. My mother sounded exhausted. Mentally multiplying what she had contended with by a factor of 1,000, I think I got a tiny glimpse into what it must be like for those who live in a true flood zone, like along the Missouri or Mississippi. At least my parents' efforts hadn't involved sandbags, watermarks 6 feet up the wall, or simply getting washed away. And as my mother put it, their problem was literally nothing compared to what the people in post-earthquake Haiti are dealing with right now. It helps to look at what seems like a domestic crisis with a global perspective. But that doesn't mean you can ease up your efforts with the water vacuum.

Driving past the Goose River Golf Course in Rockport this afternoon, I was a bit in awe of how much of it was underwater. If I didn't know better, I'd have thought those sodden lowlands were a shallow pond. But while marveling at the transformed golf course, a memory from more than 20 years ago suddenly resurfaced in my head: driving I-40 in Arkansas shortly after the Mississippi had flooded, mile after mile of fields covered with a thin sheet of water, and every so often, a house out in the middle of all that water, an unnatural island. Every day something reminds me to be grateful for what I have.

Though the rain has stopped now, the river still gushes, a churning spate pouring over the dam--our own white-noise machine turned up on high volume. The slower, wider section upriver of the dam offers up a flat mixture of rain and ice that looks more liquid than solid. Only a duck should trust that surface.

Rain falling on snow--
the world slowly made liquid.
All washes away.

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