Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Eight days into the new year...it already seems much longer.
Nothing like living in the Midwest to experience rapid temperature changes.
Last week we faced well below freezing temperatures, and were wading through inches of snow. This week we have had the mildest weather I can remember this early in January, I think the high temp is about 52 fahrenheit as I write this ( 11 celsius), so still warm tonight. By the weekend they are forecasting snow again.
This unseasonably warm weather has not been all pleasant though. Tornadoes hit many locations about 80 miles to north of us last night, and at least two people lost their lives. Here, we are under a flood warning, hundreds of families have had to evacuate their homes. Including many of my neighbors.
I am lucky, I am high enough above the water level that my home will not flood, my neighbors down the road just a quarter mile west are not so lucky, their homes are flooded. We are sheltering three of those flood refugees for the next few days. A teenage girl and two cats. The young girl is doing better than I expected, she has tear stricken moments, but eventually bounces back. Her parents aren't doing quite so well. Her father returned by boat to his home tonight, and spent several hours sitting up high in his living room in the hopes the water would stop rising. It hasn't yet. The river has already broken the previous flood record and as far as I know has not reached its full crest.
I have to say, as sad as I am for my neighbors, I am proud of my children's reaction to their plight. While I was in the city working, they too were working...they helped our neighbors load up and move their furnishings out of their home before the waters filled it.
The dam 20 miles north of me broke today before they opened it up, not sure what they will end up doing about that.
Tonight when I finally got home, (all roads but one are flooded), I changed into some casual clothes and decided to see how high the water was on my decks. It was almost completely dark, but I was astounded that I could see the river already, and I had only taken a few steps out into the yard. As I crossed the road and reached the top deck I could hear the rush of the water going past. The decks are surrounded by trees, so it was much darker there, but I could just make out the water level, and see that one of the largest bank side trees, (it is rooted about five feet above normal water level), was half submerged. The mid-level deck wasn't covered in water yet, so I decided to go down to take some photographs. Big mistake. The wet wooden steps were slicker than the slickest ice I have ever attempted to walk on. I made it down the first three before I fell the first time. My umbrella flew to the east, while my camera flew to the west, and went tumbling over the railing as I slid down the steps on my rump.
I was in a bit of a panic, I could hear the camera as it rolled down the hill, the attached lens cap was clinking against the camera as it tumbled through the wet grass. The camera just kept rolling. I was probably foolish, but I couldn't lose my camera...no way! As I tried to stand up to climb over the railing to look for it, I couldn't get any traction on the wet mossy wood, and I fell again, and again. Finally sliding myself bottom first over the edge of the deck and between the railing, I slid my way down the embankment. It was pitch black by now, but I could see the glow of the camera's power light as it finally came to a stop. As I slid down level with the camera, I realized I should have been at least 15 feet above the "normal" water level, but the camera was lying half submerged in water. Water poured from it as I picked it up. I am soooo hoping it isn't ruined.
Anyway, I grabbed my treasure, wrapped the strap 3 times around my forearm (I wasn't going to lose it again!) and climbed back up the hill, breathing a sigh of relief as I reached the deck. So far so good, it was easier going up than down. But, I still had to climb back up onto the deck to reach the stairs, no way I could have climbed up the much steeper embankment to the road. I made it over the edge of the deck floor just fine. More sensible now, I moved ever so slowly over to the stairs, just as I gingerly lifted my right foot onto the lowest step, down I went again. Oh wow, that hurt big time! Trying to stop my fall, I had thrown my body forward and landed shins first against the edges of the two bottom steps. Reaching up to grab the railing, I once again pulled myself up, and promptly fell again! Pulling myself once more to a standing position, I grabbed both hand rails, and with very deliberate, extremely slow steps I once again attempted to climb the steps, I made it, slipping and sliding, but I finally made it to the top.
Then the pain hit me...I ached and stung all over. Moaning and groaning I walked back up to the house as I sadly listened to the water dripping from my camera. Once in the house I took apart my camera, setting all the pieces out to dry, and examined my poor battered body. My shins are covered in lumps and bruises, the skin on my right hip is torn, and bruised as well. Somewhere along the way I strained my right thumb, and have small aches all along my right arm. I am one huge aching mess. But, compared to so many others I am one lucky woman, I am warm and dry inside my home.
But...ya'know...it really doesn't pay to act before you think!