Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Year Of Water

The weather is predictable in as much as a falling tree might be. The weather gurus get it right often enough for us not to totally ignore them, but they swing and miss just like those who predict the weather by flipping coins, or tossing bones, and throwing darts. History is a very good indicator as to what is going to happen each month, but individual months have their own weather outside the bell curve, and each season has its own personality outside the norm.
January and February are dry months. We know this to be true because we plan our lives around the weather here in Construction Land. Yet we’ve gotten wet storms coming through last month as if the world was being destroyed for its sins, and this month it looks like a repeat of last month. The three inches of rain we got in one day a couple of weeks ago has been augmented by rain at least once a week, and there is no end in sight.

My firepit is now a puppy wading pool, and really, Bert doesn’t care how cool it is, he enjoys being wet. Bert likes to run through the water and leave a wake. He likes lying down in it and rolling around. Meanwhile, the dead tree debris I’ve been stacking up in the pit is turning into something other than a good bonfire. I got my truck stuck Sunday off loading the last bit of rotten pieces into the pit, and had to be pulled out by a four-wheel drive truck. It’s wet people, and it’s getting a lot wetter.
This happened in 2004. The water rose and the backyard turned into Bert’s private swimming pool. I didn’t own a dry dog for the better part of a year. They stalked and killed Cottonmouths and left the dead bodies for me to find. Bert and Sam also captured a huge soft shelled turtle and drug the poor beast across the yard, onto the deck, and then onto the porch and kept him there until I got home. How they got the damn thing out of the water without being bitten is a mystery. I released it back into the pond, and never saw it again.
The water scared me that year, and you’re a moron of water doesn’t scare you. I saw it creeping up towards the house, and when it’s fifty feet away, that’s when you start making plans to get the hell out, not when it’s five feet away. When people who have lived in this area for over half a century tell you they’ve never seen the water this high it’s time to take note as to what might happen next. Those old timers, as befuddled as you might believe them to be, know more about the way things will be than you can imagine. You’ll never seen an old homestead near a low area, or anywhere close to water. Our modern fascination with living on the edge of lakes and ponds is not something that was once done, and for very good reason. I live within twenty feet of a pond, and it’s already taken a shot at me once in nine years. That sounds thin for a threat unless you take into account I only have to get flooded out once to pretty much wreck my house.
With the rising water the Cottonmouths will move in closer to me for several reasons. The first of which is the flooded areas will contain more frogs, but also more large wading birds like blue herons which feast on the smaller snakes as if they were spaghetti. Me and the mutts are the lesser of evils, and it is a question of when one of the dogs gets hit, not if. They’ll survive a bite from a small snake but if it’s a four footer one of the elder mutts might not be able to shake that off. Losing a dog to a snake is the sort of karma that explains to people like me that living in peace with nature is a one-way street. I accept this for what it is because I cannot live any other way, and still live here the way I want to live. The dogs rule the back area of the property. They kill with impunity those creatures that trespass and I imagine one day something will show up that can, and will, stand them down. It may be hubris on my part to say the dogs prefer it this way but I believe it to be true. It will not in any way, shape, fashion, or form, relieve me of my grief or culpability if I lose one of my children to the wild, but again, I know no other way to live.

There is more water on the way, and I have no where to put it, or no way to prevent it. If this keeps up an early season hurricane in June might make this a banner year for water. One year will be unlike all others, and one day, if I live long enough, I’ll tell the younger generation about how high the water got in 2010. I’ll speak of loss and they’ll wonder if I’m so addled I’m misremembering, but they too will have their flood, and they too, if they live long enough, will remember one year of water, unlike any they have ever seen before.

Take Care,
Mike

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