Sunday, April 11, 2010

At The Lake....

When I was growing up, I spent time at "The Lake" every year. Anywhere from a few days to several weeks. But "The Lake" that I grew up around wasn't your typical lake. In fact it wasn't even a real lake.

Farmers have to have a sense of humour - it is the only way to survive what Mother Nature can dish out. The land where I grew up was settled by my paternal great grandfather and grandfather in the early 1890's. There is a creek that twists and turns through the yard and the farm house is surrounded on three sides by the creek.

My father always said he was like a rich Texan. He didn't have to take his family to the lake - he brought "The Lake" to us - at least once every year!

The problem was that "The Lake" was actually flood water from that creek that runs through our farm. Spring thaw and flooding are par for the course.

The creek is actually rather small and narrow but it runs off of a larger river further upstream. That river and part of the creek also run through the nearby hills. Because of that, we can get flood effects several times in any given spring. The first is a general melt of snow off the land and the creek itself. The second and sometimes third floods are off the overflow from the river and the snow melt from the hills. Add into that the normal late winter snowfalls and spring rains and you are pretty much guaranteed at least a small flood every year!

They tend to come a few weeks apart. It can start as early as mid March and come slowly or rise in a matter of hours depending on the weather. The first round starts to recede and it is almost dry enough to start working the land and cleaning the yard. If the weather has been kind - with a slow melt and little extra precipitation - then you might be lucky and only have that one flood. But, if it goes too quickly or you get more rain or snow, then all bets are off! You just bide your time and hope for the best. It's a frustrating but inevitable part of living on this land.

Floods don't just happen in spring though. Nope. There have been several years where a heavy rainfall has triggered the creek to overflow its banks and turn our yard and fields into a mini ocean. We've had them in June, July and August.

Some of the pictures that have been taken over the years, can be deceptively beautiful until you take a closer look and realize that there was a potentially bountiful harvest of grains underneath. The vegetable garden that promised produce for the coming winter was gone. And the flowerbeds and lawn that were so lovingly nourished were now a murky and muddy mess.

Row boats, small motor boats and the front end loader for the tractor were often used to get around the property. We'd park the vehicles and implements on high ground and wear hip waders to get to them. When we still had livestock, the baby farm animals sometimes had to be moved onto higher ground or even up on a makeshift level of bales for a few days.

We've been lucky though. Our house may be surrounded by the creek, but we have rarely had more than a few inches of water in the basement. There have been the odd years that hip waders were required to go to the basement, but those were the exception. Many years a sump pump could handle most of the moisture that did seep in. The water often lapped at the top of the bottom step into the house, but we have also been lucky in that we have never had water on the main floor.

We don't have pictures from every flood - especially the early years, but my mom has put together a photo album with a lot of photos of the land and yard under water. I borrowed that album a few months ago and have put together a slideshow of some of those pictures. There are almost 60 photos here that cover the last 70 some years. I've added the year to all of the pics and text to a few.

For the best view of this slideshow, I suggest watching it in full screen. To did that, click the second button from the right (four arrow icon) at the bottom of the video box.

So for a few days - or a few weeks - as the case may be, we had waterfront property every year. I haven't actually been at "The Lake" for several years and I don't particularly miss it. It got to be rather inconvenient and tiresome after awhile.

A couple of weeks ago, during our regular Sunday morning phone call, my mom informed me that she was at "The Lake" again this spring!

Some things never change...


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