When we left on Saturday, thus appeared this new house of ours, handsomely appareled in its own new siding, shingled, and fully windowed, almost entirely enclosed, even the cement driveway laid. I took this picture having just left for Wisconsin, took it from a viaduct a quarter mile south or so because I wanted to show my mother why two old folks--my wife and I--had actually decided to build a house. It's the land, the horizon, the openness, the dawns and dusks; it's the river, barely visible, like a ribbon down below.
There's a belt of green between our long backyard and the plowed ground behind it, and amid that belt runs the Floyd, a river made vastly more prestigious by its fallen namesake than it might have ever been for any other reason, a lazy, flatland river whose single attribute is the calligraphy it bestows on otherwise featureless farmland, some of the finest farmland in North America, I might add.
The sky was overcast, as you can see; and it stayed that way during the entire holiday weekend. It's overcast right now, Tuesday morning, as light painstakingly returns to the Floyd valley. But last night, just before dark, I went up on the viaduct again to snap another shot. Here's our house in its own new digs.
Same place--same windows, same siding, same doors--same alfalfa out front, same plowed field behind. But we now own a lakefront cottage, or at least we did last night, after nine inches of rain got dumped on the area in two nights of thunderstorms that marched up from the Gulf of Mexico like some reconstituted cavalry regiment just for the Memorial Day weekend.
What once a river ran through was now occupied by a lake that lapped right up to our property line and pushed the water table up so high in the ground that it left our rental house basement baptized--by sprinkling, not immersion, thankfully. North of Sheldon already, the fields were awash; the farther south we came on our trip back, the tighter our breath became as the flooding spread. So much water, so close to home.
This morning my grateful thanks that our house wasn't inundated is tempered by the fact that our good neighbors have sandbags surrounding their walk-out basements. Yesterday, Memorial Day, is now officially a holiday they'll remember for more than any wars in Europe or Asia. Yesterday they fought their own battle against a tide as fierce as any. Just for the record, that's our lakefront house at the top of the pic, the brash and swollen Floyd in the foreground.
If it's over--forecasts are not so promising, then we've survived the worst flooding the Floyd has ever engineered, 17 feet above flood stage. Here's where my grandson and I go fishing. Normally, there's a fifteen-foot bank right here that's getting harder and harder for my grandson's grandfather to negotiate. Now I could sit on the grass and throw in a worm.
I wondered about the ducks and the geese whose suburban life had to be traumatically affected. I'm sure some eggs were lost, maybe even some young. But the geese made it.
I have a feeling the river decided on its own to shuffle this old stump along from wherever it had been, but when I came up on this marching gaggle, I had to laugh a bit because the kids from Learning Ship pre-school apparently made it through okay. When I got to close, their teachers took them into the water for safe-keeping.
But the great news is that last night brought no new drama, no riveting third act. At mid-afternoon, the forecast said there'd be more of the Gulf's richest blessings rumbling up in the form of yet another round of thunder storms, a 70% chance, in fact.
Thank the Lord that blessing didn't materialize. So this morning's thanks are as obvious as any I've ever offered. I'm thankful that both our new house and the old one are left pretty much untouched by the flood, and I'm just as thankful that whatever computer gizmos weathermen use to forecast what's about to happen were, yesterday, flat wrong.
Now we could get sun?--I'm asking humbly. Nice as it would be to have a lake right there out back of our new house, trust me when I say we'll settle for the lazy old Floyd.