It’s April of 2017. I’m looking out of the window at my garden. It’s been raining cats and more cats since forever. The meteorologists looking at tea leaves and cracked crystal balls predict 40 days and nights of rain.
The garden looks like a muddy swimming pool. My kitchen window is a little foggy, but I think I saw a duck with water wings floating through the yard. He disappeared, as the storm became so bad, it looked like a fire hose was spraying the lawn.
I toyed with ideas of how to save the garden. Maybe sandbags could detour the new river. I could use tarps and duct tape to make an umbrella over the radishes.
Water. It’s the stuff of life. When scientists look for life on another planet, water is the first clue they seek. When explorers cross a desert, water is the most important commodity that keeps them alive.
Water is one of the five ancient elements. The others are earth, air, fire, and coffee. I think pie is the sixth element, but that’s currently being debated by scientists. These elements were crucial to science in the ancient world.
Water, the stuff of life, is the most relentless enemy a person could ever have. It does not quit attacking and finds any weakness.
Out in the garden the last tomato plant gave up treading water and sank into a watery grave. A radish floated by.
Way back in 1993 I had the misfortune of being in the flood on the Mississippi River. I was literally in that flood for weeks. It was cruel and unforgiving. It kept going and going, with no end in sight.
Somewhere up north, maybe in dreadful Wisconsin, something caused the river to start sending oodles of water to St Louis. Maybe everyone flushed at the same time or turned on sprinklers simultaneously. Even though nobody has taken responsibility, the river started toward up and kept it up for a long time.
The river was supposed to crest at a 10 year high in early July 1993. It reached that point and kept going. Experts at the local tavern predicted it would reach a 50 year flood level in a few days. It kept going. The Corps of Engineers predicted a 100 year flood and got passed up. The water kept going to the top of the levees.
If the river water would have stayed in the river, it would be OK, but it didn’t. It pushed at every point at once, looking for a weak spot. When in found one, it pushed through. A finger of water would weave from the river through the ground to spray up like a geyser. One of our sandbag crews would respond and build a containment wall around it until the wall reached the level of the river. A foot, or a block, or a mile away another geyser would erupt. It was like the crews were chasing their sand covered tails.
Here in 2017, the window showed that the garden was completely gone. It’s like it packed up and moved west where there’s less mud and more rock. All that was left was a muddy smear.
The flood of ’93 water was unbelievable. It was like a bratty toddler that never slept and would not be ignored. If it was quiet, you’d wonder what it was up to. Before long it’d blast a manhole cover into the sky or slam barges into bridge supports.
We were exhausted, but diligent. The folks downstream must have taken a nap, because the river threw a big hissy fit that cost them a levee and flooded a gazillion acres and a couple of shady towns.
Their loss was our gain. On July 31, the river started relaxing at the 500 year flood point. Over the next weeks, water retreated to the ocean. It took its sweet time and left behind lots of stinking rot and billions of biting bugs.
Sandbags stayed in the way for a long time. They got moldy and nasty looking and smelled like a swamp monster with dysentery.
The mud dried onto everything. It wasn’t regular mud. It was black gumbo glue and concrete mud. It was the mud you could chisel off, but you could never get rid of the black stain. It was evil voodoo mud from Heck.
The 2017 rain apocalypse has stopped, just like the 1993 flood eventually ended. Water, the stuff of life, has disciplined us again. It reminded us not to take it for granted. The ancient element reminded us it is a Ninja master, or it’s a spoiled toddler. Whichever it is, I’m not taking it for granted. The garden has learned a lesson as well. It learned tomatoes don’t swim all that well.