Tuesday, March 15, 2011

AFTERMATH

The days of high water, which covered most of this island across from the cottage, left piles of sand in their wake. It will take several additional high-water periods—please, God, not quite so high—to wash the bulk of it away.

I've been trying to get this post up for the last two days as I wanted to update readers on our situation, reassure everyone that we're okay, and thank one and all for their concern, well-wishes, and prayers. I appreciated them—and you!—more than you might possibly imagine. 

The river is now almost back to its normal spring pool level, having dropped another few feet since Sunday. For the first time in several weeks, I can hear the big riffle in front of the cottage roaring—a counterintuitively reassuring sound. High water silences this riffle. I sometimes awake in the night, stirred by an unexpected lack of sound, yet certain before I ever push the curtain aside for a quick look, that rain locally or perhaps many miles upstream, has brought the river up by several feet…high enough to smooth out the churning riffle.

The nine stone steps leading down to a stone platform a couple of feet above the water's usual level are also visible in their entirety for the first time in days. As the river comes up, I mark its rise progress by these steps…one, two, three, four, five, nothing to be concerned about, six, seven, hummmm, apparently more rain fell than I thought, eight, better keep a close eye on things. When the water tops the ninth step, I begin to worry. From that point to the threshold of the cottage's doorway is less than a foot of vertical rise. Should rising water breach the threshold, I have a final three inches of leeway from the entryway level to the main floor. And at some point during those 12–13 inches, I have to make the decision to start moving things like the piano and furniture. 

This is the head end of the same island. The boulder pile isn't new, but before the flooding, only about half was visible—the rest was covered by earth and vegetation. It's now like land with it's bones showing. And you have to wonder about the floodtime (1913?) that piled all these big stones on the upstream end of the island originally.
During this latest flood, the water came within a few inches of getting inside. The highest it's been since I've lived here, and too close for comfort. The worst part, from my perspective, was that last Tuesday, while the river was still slowly but steadily rising, I had to leave for an overnight conference in Columbus. I serve on the Board of Directors of the local community health center. Various registration and membership fees—to the tune of several hundred dollars—had already been paid on my behalf, from a limited budget that is carefully administered. Fellow members were counting on me and I took this mission seriously. However, heavy rains of 3–5 inches throughout the region were predicted for that evening and throughout Wednesday, with additional water to be added to a system already bordering on maximum flood capacity. Enough to bring the river up well past the critical point. I wanted to be there to do whatever I could. Yet I had to ask Myladlove to deal with things…and to make matters worse, she was in the midst of switching jobs, and had promised to train her replacement a bit before her final day on Thursday.

Somehow…a miracle…the predicted heavy rains failed to materialize—not only here, but anywhere within the 70 or so miles of upstream watershed. I got back late Wednesday. The river crested last Thursday, inches from the threshold. The only damage we incurred was minor—a bit of bank washed away, the stone platform at the bottom of the steps near the river tilted away from its foundation. Considering the ongoing tragedy in Japan, I shouldn't even be mentioning what a week ago loomed so large in my trivial and banal riverbank world. By any standard whatsoever, my life is blessed beyond measure.   

Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all for being concerned about our welfare—for sending comments, e-mails, words of encouragement, for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers…for being the best blog readers imaginable, and more than that, friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
———————

30 comments:

pacifixe said...

phew, phew, phew!
After realizing that you were responding to comments (thank you for that!) I stopped worrying QUITE so much.
So glad that everything is ok, for now at least.
Despite the magnitude of events elsewhere, or perhaps even more so because of them, you are quite a blessing.
Namaste,
Alixe

George said...

What great news, Grizz, to learn that you have missed a silver bullet. I know that all of your readers will be happy to learn that you and your ladylove are getting back to normal. Yes, the tragedy in Japan does put things in perspective, but perspective is the last thing one expects to have when presented with an immediate crisis, as you had in recent days. Welcome back, and I hope that you and your ladylove will now have an opportunity to sit back, break a little bread, and sip a little wine. All will be better with the arrival of spring.

Wanda..... said...

Every time it rained, I thought of you and Jain @ Bankside...but saw all was well, in your comment there. It must have been awfully stressful though. I can understand the high stress and worry of the threatening flood situation, but I know I can't fully comprehend the horrendous sorrow and pain the people of Japan are feeling. I blog and e-mail with two Japanese women in Nara, Japan...though father inland and safe they are so down-hearted.

Grizz………… said...

pacifixe…

There were days and times there when I literally didn't know whether I was coming or going. I think these past three or four weeks have been about a year long…

Things are fine here now, except for the fact that somehow I seem to have damaged a knee, leg, and hip…though it could be arthritis. At any rate I gimp around, and have trouble walking or sitting for more than a few minutes at a time—at which point I have to move, get up, adjust positions, etc., and sometimes take a pain pill.

But it's nothing, really. I'm sorry to have caused any of my dear readers a moment's concern—and hope I'll be forgiven.

BTW, I just took a look at your blogs and thought them a wonderful eclectic mix of poetry, photos, music, art. I'll be back for more.

Thank you for your lovely comments.

Grizz………… said...

George…

We had a good scare and a close call—that's for sure; but we seemed to be protected and blessed throughout. I am so grateful.

The story from Japan is simply heartbreaking. In an instant, lives and homes, villages, jobs…a way of life, wiped out. I might have lost some of my possessions should the river have continued to rise—but here the water moved slowly. I would have gotten out the things that mattered, the irreplaceable photos, furniture, keepsakes, books. Those poor folks never had a chance—and for many of them, the future is so empty and bleak it's almost incomprehensible.

Perspective is indeed revealing and humbling.

The great part about Myladylove's new job, which she started yesterday, is—besides a 20 percent increase in salary, better insurance at half the price, a great incentive program, etc., etc., etc.—she goes from 65–70 hours per week to 32–35. We're going to be spending so much more time together that we'll probably have to get reacquainted.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Grizz - I have thought about you so often and wondered how high that water was getting - and miracle of miracles, it stopped just short of crisis point. Maybe that is the price you pay for living so near to the water - and the converse side of the coin is that you live amongst such beauty,
So pleased that all's well that ends well.

Grizz………… said...

Wanda…

Jain and I were e-mailing back and forth through the whole deal—worrying, dithering, commiserating, reassuring, understanding…whatever it took. And you have no idea how much that helped us both!

In point of fact, Jain had a worse time of things, though. Not as bad as it could have been, or as she first feared it had been…but bad enough. I was stressed for her and for me, and I expect she felt the same.

However, neither of us would trade our riverbank lives and homes for a fancy home in the dry city. We both understand and love our rivers. Love always requires compromise.

I'm glad your Japanese friends are safe, and understand fully why they are so down-hearted. A disaster such as the one they—and in fact the whole country, if not the world vicariously—are going through is not something you get over in days or months or years. Maybe not even in generations. This is a disaster that tugs and rends at the emotional fabric of what it means to be a member of humankind. It's a sorrow that extends from heaven into the earth. An emptiness and pain that's palpable 24/7. We need to hold that country and the people up every single day with our thoughts and prayers, to send whatever aid we can, and to be so grateful that at the end of today, we still have family and home, friends, neighbors, commniuty, a job to work, food to eat, water to drink, a change of clothes, and a place to lay our heads in sleep.

Thank you for thinking of us here, Wanda. I hope things are going well with you and yours.

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

I didn't mean to worry you—or anyone—and hope you understand it wasn't intentional. But I do appreciate the fact that you were concerned. Thank you.

And you're right, such occasional dramas are the price you pay for living beside a river—just as you pay in certain respects to live anywhere in the country, away from all the immediate services of a city. But then again, there are offsetting rewards, values which make it all worthwhile. Life requires compromise; you have to give to get. You must make choices. I wouldn't trade my riverbank cottage for a New York penthouse—not because one is better than the other, but because one is better than the other FOR ME. This place feeds my soul. Rising water and the occasional worry is just part of the package I gladly accept.

Scott said...

Like Alixe said, "Phew...that was close!"

Grizz………… said...

Scott…

Sure looked close from my side of the deck—and it was, I guess. It wasn't so much the amount of rain dropped by each passing front, but the close spacing of the fronts themselves that was the real problem. Rain on top of rain on top of rain, coming too soon after the big ice melt the ground already saturated, and no chance to recover some leeway.

The devil is always in the details.

Jain said...

Wanda, your kind thoughts were so appreciated.

Grizz, you're so right, the commiserating was helpful beyond measure... and cityfolk can keep their highrises, for sure!

This post from Thich Nhat Hanh's Facebook page moved me, hope you don't mind my reposting it here:

Dear friends in Japan,
As we contemplate the great number of people who have died in this tragedy, we may feel very strongly that we ourselves, in some part or manner, also have died.
The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. And the human species and the planet Earth are one body. What happens to one part of the body happens to the whole body.
An event such as this reminds us of the impermanent nature of our lives. It helps us remember that what's most important is to love each other, to be there for each other, and to treasure each moment we have that we are alive. This is the best that we can do for those who have died: we can live in such a way that they continue, beautifully, in us.
Here in France and at our practice centers all over the world, our brothers and sisters will continue to chant for you, sending you the energy of peace, healing and protection. Our prayers are with you.
~~Thich Nhat Hanh

Chant on,
Jain

Julie Baumlisberger said...

I am sitting here, having read your post about your final safe outcome, thinking about how connected we can become when we care. I've only been reading your blog for a few months, yet while you were in danger of being flooded out, I was checking my computer every few hours for an update. I was very happy to hear that you survived without too much mishap and managed to keep your homestead dry. Looking forward to you writing about the official arrival of spring ;)

Beyond My Garden said...

So glad you are okay. rising water is scary.
nellie

Grizz………… said...

Jain…

So, I guess we're in agreement—we'll stick with our rivers."

I don't mind at all reposting Thich Nhat Hanh's eloquent comments. "…what's most important is to love each other, to be there for each other, and to treasure each moment we have that we are alive."

I couldn't agree more.

Grizz………… said...

Julie…

I appreciate, understand, and share your thoughts about becoming connected when we care. I frankly don't understand people who don't care…how can they be so cold, so unmoved, so distant from the human condition? I care about my family and my friends—friends I've met and friends I've yet to meet. I am, by nature, a loner—and yet I love people. My heart aches every time I turn on the TV and see the most recent coverage of the tragedy in Japan. Those people are hurting, suffering; their pain and loss is almost impossible to grasp. How can you witness such an event , remain unmoved to the core, and still call yourself a human being?

I didn't mean to cause you concern, but I so appreciate that you were. Do you understand what I mean? THat says something wonderful about the sort of person you are…and I'm glad and honored to have you as a reader and friend. Thank you.

Grizz………… said...

Nellie…

Yes it is—especially when it rises higher than any rise you've witnessed before, and even scarier when it shows every sign of continuing to rise slowly and steadily forever. Or so I imagined.

Rising rivers are, bottom line, unstoppable. You know that when you set your life up beside one. You live there on their terms. Even so, they are the most lovely, magical, interesting places to live beside and get to know. A regular refreshing of your proper respect is probably necessary—and if a good healthy scare every so often is the price to pay, I'm willing.

Bernie said...

So happy to know that all has settled Grizz, I said a prayer for you and another one of my blogger friends going through something similar.
Also praying for all of the people in Japan, such a sad situation.
Hope your ladylove is enjoying her new job, stay well my friend.
.....:-)Hugs

The Solitary Walker said...

Glad your cottage is safe and sound. That wild-river pic in your last post looked scary! I must admit I've wondered from time to time what you would do if the river gods were displeased and the water just rose and rose. I don't think those watery nymphs and naiads would be quite so welcome dancing around on your saturated floorboards and sodden furniture! Anyhow, all's well that ends well.

Grizz………… said...

Bernie…

Thank you so much for your concern and your prayers. I don't know quite how to explain it, but when things are tough, and the road ahead uncertain, there's genuine strength in knowing I have such a kind and thoughtful friend out there lifting me up in her thoughts and prayers.

Myladylove is really excited and pleased with her new job. The contrast between her former workplace, the hours and team spirit, and the situation overall is simply amazing. Though she will normally have to work four hours on Saturday, this coming Saturday—because she's still finishing up her training—she'll have the day off. Other than during a vacation or sick-leave period, it will be the first two-day weekend she's had off in over 14 years.

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

From day one here—and even before moving in—I've always known the river would have regular high-water events, and that the chances were good that if I stayed here long enough, I'd eventually have water get into the cottage. That foresight is all well and good, but it doesn't make watching the water level creep ever upward any easier.

The best you can do—once you accept the more-or-less inevitable—is to make your plans for saving stuff, and hope the next rainstorm isn't "the big one."

Historically, the greatest natural disaster ever to strike Ohio was the Great Flood of 1913, when water 20 feet deep covered the city's main downtown. More than 20,000 homes were destroyed, 65,000 residents were displaced, and at least 360 people were killed. The river here would have been perhaps 40 feet deep—or at least a dozen feet above the roof peak of the cottage. (The cottage was built in 1919, after the above flood.)

That event also took place in March, and just like this time around, was the result of three storm fronts passing through within a three-day period. Each carried heavy rain. The ground was frozen, so there was little absorption, and the quick run-off quickly put all the surface water into the rivers and tributaries.

Except for scale, that's what occurred this time, too—several storms over a short period, heavy rains, frozen or saturated ground, and a fast run-off.

Timing is everything…

Bonnie said...

Grizz: What good news. I thought of you as I saw day after day of rain forecast in your area. What an upset to try and be prepared for the worst case scenario. At least your ailing back was spared moving the big pieces of furniture.

May your days by the river be calm, peaceful and full of great photographic opportunities from here on out!

Grizz………… said...

Bonnie…

Well, I spared my back re. the furniture moving, but apparently messed up my knee, leg, and hip climbing up and down the stepladder with boxes of books for the attic.

But the important thing is that we came through high enough to remain dry.

I appreciate your thoughts and well wishes…and I do intend to gimp out and enjoy spring!

Grace said...

Glad to hear that you are dry and cozy. I don't get the impression that you're one to take things for granted, but in light of recent events, I bet you just appreciate them even more.

KGMom said...

In addition to the soothing sounds of the riffle near your house--you should hear a giant EXHALE of air--from my lungs!
Whew.

Likewise--the Susquehanna crested at 21.3 feet near my friend's house which faces the river. Her house isn't in real trouble until 22 feet. A bit too close.

Grizz………… said...

Grace…

No, I've been around too long and paid too much attention to ever take anything at all for granted…and you're exactly right, I know a real blessing—a gift—when I receive one. Our recent waltz with the rising river was just that—a favor of grace.

Grizz………… said...

KGMom…

Hey, now that you mention it, I did hear a relieved sigh from the east earlier.

The only monitor on this particular river is located a couple of miles upstream. I have to interpolate the readings there into what to expect here, and they're not anywhere close to similar since the water here is much shallower…but I can tell you the crest at that gage measured 44.31 feet.

sage said...

Glad you made it through okay!

Grizz………… said...

Sage…

I'm glad we made it, too…which I believe was only by God's grace. If the last rains had arrived as predicted, we'd have been caught.

Arija said...

What a relief it was to hear that you and your surroundings are safe. I was so worried while I was away and this is the first opportunity I have had to come over and check up on you.

You are so right, everything pales into insignificance with the disaster in Japan. it is not just a disaster for Japan, it is one for the whole world. The atmosphere circles the world and does not stop at the border, nor does the radioactive spillage know that to keep out of the ocean currents. Those nuclear reactors will have a wold wide impact for many centuries to come.

How negligent can the human race be? I do hope they come to their senses just a little and do not build the proposes nuclear plant on the San Andreas fault in California.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

Thank you for your concern and you nice note.

What you say about environmental responsibility is all true, alas. We humans are, in many ways, a disgusting species—foolish beyond measure, uncaring of others, short-sighted, greedy. We have raped and poisoned this most beautiful earth—and continue to do so in spite of our lofty words and committees and plans. One of these days—and perhaps not far in the future—we'll make the final blunder, cross a line that can't be uncrossed, unleash some fury which consumes us and all our fancy creations.

The piper will be paid…