Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Morning Thanks--A sermon on Sunday

We're not going to sell, but in darkness like this morning's I'm always pleased to think the price we could get for our place has gone way up because we've got ourselves a lake home. What's open field behind us to the river has become a lake, so if we sit out on the deck, right now we're in Minnesota. 

It's something of a flood, but nothing to be afraid of. What happened to the river yesterday isn't an annual occurrence, but it happens often enough for my neighbor to call it a "good, old fashioned ice jam." He claims he can't remember it ever happening quite this early--mid-February, but it'll be gone shortly because there isn't much left to feed it and no rain in the forecast. 

Our "good, old-fashioned ice jam" is and was mostly snow-melt, hard as that is to believe, given the paltry depth of anything around us. Some rain fell on Saturday, but not all that much. But the water table must be high.

Still, the phenomenon taking place on what was up until yesterday a frozen river is and was high drama, at least it grabs your grabs your attention. Somewhere upstream, somewhere closer to Hospers or Sheldon, the flow determined to break up the ice that makes the Floyd River a snowmobile trail. Somewhere water pressure surpasses the weight of the ice, and the ice starts breaking up--that's the story. The river starts to look like this.

Simply put, the river starts to look like a river. But that ice doesn't fade away into H-two-0 without a fight. The temps were sweet on the Sabbath, but not swampy; so ice chunks float away until there's so much and many of 'em that the channel can't hold it all. Where it all stops, we got a good, old-fashioned ice jam.

If you look down river here, down toward the bridge you can see the jam from behind. You have to look closely. Eventually there ain't no place to go.

Let me bring you closer. That island of ice--see it at the bottom of the shot?--that patio-sized chunk in is about to run stuck, fifty yards from the bridge, become just another puzzle part of the jam.

And when it does, it will add another ton to the immense tonnage of the jam, blocking the flow of the water. Weight like that can take out bridges--"they get nasty," as another neighbor of mine told me yesterday, wearing something of a frown and he and his dog walked by. Truth is, I can't imagine how much weight all that ice is bringing. Look at this.

That's the jam. There are ice chunks in that mess that are driveway-sized. Lots of them. So what we've got, right in our own backyard is a true, classic battle: the irresistible force meets the immovable object. It's not everyday one can stand right there and bear witness.

Eventually, of course, river water walks away from its own traditional path and finds its own way, spilling out over the lowest bank it can find. It moves away from the channel to find a rest for its weariness in a riverside field. 

When it does, it makes our place a lake house.

Thoreau had enough Calvinism in him to feel the urge to create a sermon out of  phenomena like a thawing Walden Pond. But he resisted. He was happy enough just to watch, just to bear witness. And so will I. 

Because what happened yesterday out back is interesting all by itself. It doesn't require an application, doesn't really need a three-point sermon or a bible verse set into the picture. It's stunning all by itself, an amazing phenomenon that, I suppose, will, like a wooden-shoed band at Tulip Time, shortly move farther down the river for a repeat performance until fifty-degree temps hold on, as promised, this week. Then it'll all be over and the river will just be Floyd again.

Still, it seems to me that just about any pilgrim could do worse for worship on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

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