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Weathering the Storm

I’d forgotten what it felt like to wake up feeling cocooned, with the soft, insulating patter of rain outside the window.

It’s been quite a while since we’ve had to think about the pathways that divert floodwaters around our rural property. The old drainage ditches and culverts had been neglected but the general topography of the land hadn’t changed.

Many years ago, we had a neighbor who single-handedly ran a small herd of dairy cows on his 11-acre parcel. During what used to be regular seasonal storms, his lower pasture (a half-acre or so) would fill with water after heavy rainfall. Our boys always called it the “lake” and like Brigadoon in the old movie, it would be there for a short while and then disappear. It always lasted long enough to provide a respite for a few Canadian geese in their migration south.

The forecast for our recent series of storms sent Hubby and I scurrying to find our boots and grab our shovels to ready the old channels for the “atmospheric river.” We’d had some rain already and could see where the flow was beginning to back up.

Straddling a ditch while trying to locate and clear the mouth of an old drainage pipe (not visible in the muddy water) with a shovel, isn’t easy to say the least. It’s an awkward position to try to pull away matted grasses and lift one heavy shovelful of mud, gravel and debris after another. But, as you begin to see a trickle of water find its way through to work with you to clear and enlarge the path, it reinvigorates your effort. The soreness you’ll feel the next day from muscles you’ve been ignoring will be well worth it.

The first of the heavy rains arrived and during a brief break several hours later, we ventured out to see what more needed to be done. The ground had already reached the saturation point with water ponding in the usual areas. Mud sucked at our boots as we walked around the field. We were surprised to see water gushing from a gopher hole in the side of a trench we’d dug. It had found it’s own path. Most of all, we were delighted to once again hear the chorus of hundreds of frogs, their voices long absent.

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