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…