Saturday, May 15, 2010

RIVER UP…RIVER DOWN

The river upstream from the cottage this morning…
When you live beside a river, you naturally become singularly aware of its ups and downs. It is, after all, an extension of the property and setting—in my case constituting what amounts to the front yard. The first thing I do after arising and making my coffee is take Moon the dog out for her morning constitutional. And while she does her thing, sniffing and snuffling around the bushes, I check out the river.
Not that I expect to be surprised, mind you…at least not by the river itself, though you never know what may be lurking along the bank, perched in a nearby tree, or paddling about the pools. Snake? Beaver? Heron? Wood duck? Vulture? Raccoon? Muskrat? Whitetail? Even an eagle!
Still, as I say, it's seldom the river itself delivering the surprise. The most common exception comes when I glance around the corner of the cottage and am astonished by a water level unexpectedly up by several feet. Usually, I keep track of not only my own local weather, but also weather in the counties upstream, with an eye toward any goings-on that might effect the stream as I'll receive it a day or so hence. To be surprised thus is, frankly, rare—not something that happens more than a couple times a year. When it does, it's invariably because the weather here has not shown the least hint of rain, so I've been lulled into not paying proper attention to weather reports for elsewhere upstream.
Of course, knowing the river is apt to rise, and being able to do anything about it, are two different things. Rivers always have the final say. You must accept this going in—the river will rise and fall as it always has, responding to the natural pulse of the seasons and the idiosyncracies of daily weather. Your only role is that of observer.
The river as mirror…the blues are of the sky,
greens and golds, respectively, of
streamside trees and morning light.
For the past few days the river has been up. Not seriously high, or even moderately—just up a couple of feet and muddy. This morning it is down by a foot from yesterday evening, not quite clear enough to fish, but murky rather than muddy. However, the National Weather Service predicts a 20% chance of showers tonight, 30% tomorrow, 50% tomorrow night, and 80% on Monday. Predicted amounts range from less than a tenth of an inch to between one-half and three-quarters of an inch the first of the week.
So while the river will doubtless manage to lower an additional foot, and improve its clarity a bit more today—and possibly more still tomorrow—this improvement will only be temporary…at least for awhile. For that, you see, is the usual behavior of these Ohio rivers during the spring, the rhythm every streamside dweller comes to expect and accept.
River up…river down…river up…river down…river up…
———————

12 comments:

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

A little like life - those rolling rivers.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

A LOT like life—in fact a near-perfect metaphor…plus fish!

Tramp said...

After a rainy Friday here I paid heed to the forecast of a weekend of rain and wrote off outside activities. To Saturday evening it has been cool, cloudy, occasionally even sunny with a slight wind drying things out. So I've been writing them on again. Tomorrow, who knows?
To the east of the country things are wetter and the rivers are rising.
Here its more a case of on...off...on...off
...Tramp

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Tramp…

We've been trying get a bunch of yard work done. Myladylove has taken a couple of vacation days—today (Saturday) and Monday, so that with Sunday (always off) and Tuesday (her usual day off) she will have four days in a row for the price of two. A good deal—except the weather isn't going to give much outside time. And today, which was supposed to be rain-free through midnight, is already cloudy, getting darker and damper feeling by the minutes, with a storm cell showing about a dozen miles away on the radar, and heading our way. I expect our outside time for the day is over—and perhaps through mid-week.

George said...

"Your only role is that of observer." There's great wisdom in this statement, Grizz, and it applies to more than just river-watching. The person who can find pleasure in just observing the dance of life, without constantly judging it and trying to change its course, has a pretty good shot at this elusive thing we call happiness.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

George…

There have been plenty of times and things over the years when I'd have saved myself a lot of work, worry, and not infrequently, cash, if I'd have been wise enough to settle for observe-only mode. Rivers, though, have never been something I wanted to change, except for acts, à la Ed Abbey's Monkey Wrench Gang, such as blowing up a dam.

Von said...

The beautiful life along the river bank.Ratty and Mole knew a thing or two.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Von…

They did, indeed! And not only of the good life along the river, but of friendship and small adventures, messing about in boats, cozy comforts, snug dwellings, warm hearthfires, cookies and tea, and of listening to and heeding the music comes from without but resonates within.

Vagabonde said...

You may have mentioned this before, but what is the name of your river? And does it ever flood your garden? Last September we had some pretty bad flooding in my county, Cobb County. A small creek close to us, called the Allatoona Creek flooded and closed our road for a week. I did a post on it on 26 Sept 09 showing all the flooding pictures. Don’t you get many mosquitoes in summer?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Vagabonde…

First off, no, I almost never have a mosquito around—which I know people find impossible to believe. But it is true. From late spring through mid-autumn, we sit out on the deck almost every evening when it isn't raining, from before dusk until sometimes 10:00-11:00 p.m. and might swat one mosquito or two. Not anywhere close to being a problem. We don't spray or anything, either. I think the reason is there's just no standing water around for them to breed in—the river is always moving with no real stagnant pools, there are no ponds nearby, just not good mosquito habitat. I've spent most of my life wading and floating rivers. Some have heavy mosquito populations while others don't—depending on nearby swampy areas, stagnant shallows, bogs and wetlands; ponds and lakes are another matter, of course.

The river has flooded the yard area before—though not since I've lived here. The cottage has had water in it three or four times since it was built in 1919. Sooner or later, it may happen. It gets high, close, and scary…but we've not had to deal with actual water in the yard or house yet. And I hope never.

Nope, you haven't missed the name of my river—that's like a big secret. A couple of people have figured it out by carefully reading the posts; a couple others think they've figured it out but actually haven't. One reader who did used those aerial photo-maps and sent me a shot of my cottage with my pickup sitting out front! So you can play detective…or send me an email.

Kathiesbirds said...

How wonderful to be so in tune with the earth. Sounds like a great way to start the day with the song of the river and a cup of joe!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kathiesbirds…

I expect there are many who wouldn't want to live so close to a river because they couldn't feel like they were in control; I find peace in knowing the responsibility isn't mine. The rewards far outweigh the risks…and a cup of coffee and a turn around the yard with a good look at the river is the way to start the day, for sure!