The way out here

When it rains, it pours

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 9/29/21

Let’s talk about the weather. No, this isn’t small talk. But honestly, what a strange summer it’s been. Although according to my desk calendar, fall officially started this past …

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The way out here

When it rains, it pours

Posted

Let’s talk about the weather. No, this isn’t small talk. But honestly, what a strange summer it’s been. Although according to my desk calendar, fall officially started this past Wednesday, the 22nd.

I’m apt to be studying my farmers’ almanac over the winter because I just can’t quite seem to find a pattern to the weather we’ve been getting. As a friend of mine likes to joke, “Yeah it only rained twice this month. Once for two weeks, then again for a week and a half.”

While we really haven’t had that much rain, it seems when it has come, it’s come in the form of a pressure washer, blasting unrelenting quantities of water all at once. We’ve been fortunate not to experience too many difficulties with property washouts or road closures around us, but we haven’t been entirely unaffected either. As I write this, my father-in-law calls me to ask if I checked my basement. In fact, I haven’t, and we’ve just survived the last deluge that has added to the social media frenzy of people posting pictures of creeks flowing over roads, dams spilling over, and low-sitting houses submerged a few inches in the pooling runoff from the hills behind.

During the last big rain, no more than a few weeks ago, when the remnants of Hurricane Ida made their way north, my wife and I woke up early to leave on business for the day, only to realize that our basement had flooded nearly 10 inches. So off to the basement I go before scribing another thought.

Fortunately, our basement seems to have survived the recent downpour, likely due to family fixes made since the last time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s no greater resource than family.

As it was coming down the night prior, however, I was taking my son to see his grandfather down toward the river. Upon our ascension up his dirt road, I stopped and took the photos shown here to capture the power of the spontaneous aquatic advent.

While the event was intimidating, it was a nice moment to look back at his face in the rear of my car and see his eyes wide with wonder as he watched and listened to the water cascade down the bank beside us and thunder through the sluice beneath us. “Waterfall!” he exclaimed with enthusiasm as he reached for the open window. And he wasn’t wrong; as you can see, there was a multi-stemming waterfall pumping hundreds of gallons a minute down the embankment. Only a day prior, not even a trickle would have been seen.

It’s both funny and scary how quickly nature can change like that with the use of a single element like water. I think though, that the underlying hostility of it is a draw for me. If it were easy living all the time, everyone would live here.

And many people, it seems, have been making their way into the region because of the pandemic; not all will have the background knowledge of the floods we have had over the years, even in particular areas where you might assume you’ve put enough distance between you and the river.

A perfect example of this would be the bed and breakfast my dad used to own. At the time it was called Twin Spruce Lodge; now it’s been renamed the Lodge at Soaring Eagle, associated with the Soaring Eagle campground near the Kellam-Stalker bridge.

No more than a decade ago, give or take, the river surged with a record-breaking hundred-year flood and rose nearly a mile inland to flood the ground floor of the lodge with a few feet of water, completely submerging the basement and overtaking the yard. A house across the road was submerged all the way to the doorknob on the front door and was in disrepair for years. It’s for these reasons I find the river both captivating and worthy of respect, lest you underestimate what it can do.

The way out here we prepare for what we can, and make plans from planting crops to where we build our houses. Sometimes though, nature reminds us that despite our best efforts, there are forces more powerful than we thought. The “out here” warrants our attention and our respect, and those two things are the “way.”

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