Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Creek Always Rises

It has been raining in Northwest Indiana just about all summer long. It sure seems that way at least. When it hasn't been raining, its been humid and hot. Really hot. You can tell that I'm not much of a summer lover. Come to think of it, we really didn't have much of a spring either.

The last two days have been the worst. My friend mjd posted yesterday about carrying buckets of water up a flight of stairs, trying to hold down the fort until help arrived. In Highland, a few miles north of here, my daughter's friend lost most of her belongings. She and her son have moved in with mom and dad until she can find another place. Today she was wading through her ground floor apartment in hip boots with rubber gloves and a mask looking for items that might be saved. Once again family, friends and strangers have come forward to lend a hand.

We, on the other hand, are fortunate to have a dry basement. Our house sits up on a hill that overlooks a usually small winding stretch of water. On down the way, it feeds into Turkey Creek. Back in the day it remained just a little drink of water, no matter how much it rained. When they turned the nearby farms into fields of concrete, all the runoff headed our way. With a normal rain we see the creek rise about a foot. When we get heavy rains, this is what happens...

The water has risen to the top of an 8 foot retaining wall. The picture above is the same area you see in the picture below, which was taken sppring of '05. If you look close you will see the Great Blue Heron wading in "ankle deep" water. These were drier days.

Several years ago, when this was my mother's place, one of the town politicos came by. It was near election time so he decided he'd like to see, up close and personal, the soil erosion caused by the larger and stronger currents of water that accompanied the heavy rains. He brought in an engineer, who brought in a bulldozer, that was going to straighten out all the bends in the creek. I'm not quite sure what his end goal was, except that even in my feeble mind I knew that the current would have been faster and harder, gathering steam as it reached the turn. I suspect that it would have aided the runoff from mall parking lots a little up the road. What was a mild erosion problem would have been multiplied exponentially. My mom was beside herself as they fired up the heavy machinery. They had no intention of waiting for her lawyer. I coudn't think of anything else to do but stand in front of the bulldozer. Which I did. To this day, I don't know how I mustered up the nerve to do that, but it worked. They stopped long enough for help to arrive and send them on their way. I'm glad no-one actually knew how close I came to having wet trousers.

Mom's gone now. Most times the water just meanders down and round the curve, heading toward Turkey Creek. But everytime we get a heavy rain and the creek rises, I think of my mom and that bulldozer. God willin'.


Blogger mjd said...

Wow, you are a rebel, dear friend. I am impressed by your fortitude, and you won the battle with the bulldozer.

Again, the people in Highland seem to have gotten the worst part of the water rising. As you mention in this post, what humans have created with fields of concrete impacts the runoff into our waterways. Of course, we cannot change the amount of water that falls to the ground, but we can change what is done to the ground. Hopefully, we can learn not to build on flood plains, not to alter nature's water flow, and not to cover nature's sponge with acres of concrete.

Beautiful picture of the Great Blue Heron!

6:37 AM  
Blogger Life, or Something Like It said...

How brave of you. It's amazing what we have the strenght to do when we need to do it.
Your photos remind me of the small town where I grew up. Our basement flooded most years in spring. I remember the smell of wet carpet lik eit was yesterday.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

Very brave thing to do. Standing there in front of a bulldozer. I'm gald you did it though. They would really have made a mess out of that.

We would be more than willing to take some of that rain off your hands this summer down here. It's been incredibly dry.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

You stood in front of a bulldozer?! Wow girl. You have balls... er, tits of steel. I am SO impressed. I love it when people stand up for what they believe so wholeheartedly.

12:24 PM  
Blogger her indoors said...

it amazes me that in some parts of the world they have water shortages and droughts and yet other parts just get flooded, how good would it be if rain could be directed to the right places! mmm in the ideal world eh!

1:51 PM  
Blogger daddy d said...

Nice job with the bulldozer and fighting the "Man". They were just trying to get votes. You and your mom were right about the turns in the stream. Turns are good and straight is bad. It is much nicer the way mother nature made it.

6:00 PM  
Blogger gawilli said...

Thanks for all of your kind words. I grew up on this creek. Sometimes if we had enough rain before cold weather, it would freeze and we could ice skate. I even got my first kiss standing on the ice down there. I learned about wildflowers exploring its banks; Trillium, Jack in the Pulpit, Sweet Williams, Jacob's Ladder...there's even a Dogwood tree back in those woods. I also learned about Poison Ivy and bees that live in muddy holes, but that's another story! Once a snapping turtle the size of a bushel basket came up from the creek and laid eggs in the front yard. There's a whole lifetime of memories there. It's a little embarrassing for me to read about how brave it was when really there was no choice. My mom was in a panic. The bulldozer had taken down trees and brush just to get to the bank from the road. Besides, between the heartsick look on my mom's face and the bulldozer - I'll take the bulldozer any day.

6:24 PM  
Blogger sarahviola said...

It was so cool when you stood out there in the water, on the bulldozer, in your steel-toed boots. I thought you were so cool and strong. I'm proud to have inherited even a little bit of your strength. I love you.

7:11 PM  
Blogger willi said...

Your mom was so right about standing up to the politicos. Besides isn't there a law about changing the course of a stream? Probably what the lawyer you were waiting for was going to say.

The big question I have is: Were you wearing a bra when you stood in front that bulldozer?

7:43 PM  
Blogger sarahviola said...

...I was really young, but I think I remember it hanging from the balcony in flames...

7:52 PM  
Blogger gawilli said...

Silly willi and sarahviola...I didn't need a bra, for I have tits of steel. Just ask Tink.

You are right. The argument was the legality of changing the natural flow of a body of water.

sarahviola, I love it that you remember this. I did not share that I stood on the the bulldozer, but you sure did. Geez. Love you, too.

8:12 PM  
Blogger mjd said...


9:53 PM  
Blogger debi said...

I love love love this post.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

What a story!! You have to write a book, dedicate it to your mum. The snap shots of her are gorgeous, I absolutely love them. Black and white pics steal my heart :)
I love the fashion and the care free smiles people had back then. Not to say people never had stressors back then, just that stressors are now of a different technological kind.
The pictures of the rains are incredible, sadly, we need the rain here soooo bad, right in the catchment areas/ reservoirs. We have just gone onto water restrictions and it ain't even Summer yet!!

5:25 AM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

Oh yeah, I 4got to say, you remind me of Sandra Bullock in "Two weeks Notice"..the opening scenes, I shall think of you always :)

5:26 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Well done 'luv' (that's just a friendly British greeting) for standing your ground.

6:32 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Hooray for the "little guy". You sure were brave. Don't you just hate the way certain factions try to change nature?

8:16 AM  
Blogger gawilli said...

"Power to the People"...that's great! Now that's a blast from the past. Thanks Debi.

Cazzie, my mom was a beautiful lady. There are boxes of pictures and clippings that she saved over the years. I'm looking forward to sharing more of them in future posts. Wish I could send you some rain!

Welcome back, John! For some reason I think you just may know some about "standing your ground."

Agreed, Ginnie. I think Mother Nature did pretty darn good job.

9:53 AM  
Blogger dilling said...

Brave brave and brilliant soul...I would have thought so even with wet trousers!
Good on you.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Rurality said...

Nice story!

8:39 AM  
Blogger mjd said...

Oooooh, 20 comments... You have passed a milestone.

2:13 PM  

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