About ten years ago, on one of those long trips I used to take all the way from Texas to drive my kids out to stay at the old farmhouse so I could show them our family history–long before it ever crossed my mind that I might live here someday–we got off the interstate and drove the long, winding two-lane highway to our little tiny town and beyond, to the farmhouse. All along the way, there was evidence of a recent flood. Vehicles, even trailer homes, tossed in the overflowing creek that the road follows. I wasn’t much accustomed to the idea of water being dangerous, not in my safe, controlled suburban world, but throughout my childhood whenever the subject of real estate came up, I remember my father–who grew up on the banks of these West Virginia rivers and creeks, always saying quite emphatically, ‘Take the high ground.”
Despite the increased cost and logistical difficulty of building a house halfway up a hill in the boonies, there are days like yesterday when I am glad we took the high ground. I am, in fact, developing a water phobia. I have good cause, after the incident in which I drowned my car last winter after making a particularly idiotic country neophyte decision to ford the river on the wrong day. I have a hard time judging the river. It hadn’t even been raining that day, so I thought the river crossing would be fine. I was wrong. Now, it has to have not rained for several days before I’ll ford the river, and even then, I’ve taken to watching the natives.
Before the leaves came out so thick on the trees, I could easily see down our hill to the road below. If someone else who lives on our road–you know, the real country people–head for the river ford, then I know it’s okay. With the leaves out, it’s a little harder to see, but I can still glimpse a spot of road from our front porch. If the real country people drive across the river ford, then I do. If they don’t, I don’t. See the spot of road I can see down the hill through our trees? That’s the spot of road I watch. It’s the country traffic report. We don’t have news helicopters here. We just have neighbors. Who are smarter than me.
Yesterday, school was called off in our little tiny town due to a power outage. They still had school in Spencer at the county high school. I told 17 not to drive across the river ford because it had stormed overnight. Heading across the river ford is much closer than driving all the way down our rocky road to the little town then heading back up the two-lane highway to Spencer. He said, okay, then as I watched him head down the driveway, in the speck of road I can see from the porch, I watched him head in the wrong direction–toward the river ford. I sat there, helpless, listening to the sound of his car crunching down the road, waited to see what would happen. And was so relieved when what happened was in that speck of road I can glimpse from my porch I saw that he had turned around and was heading back in the other direction. He might have disobeyed my directions, but at least he had enough sense when he got to the ford to turn around after he looked at it.
Meanwhile back at our new farmhouse, it stormed all day and our power went off. Princess, bored with her day, begged to go to Georgia’s house–where her power was on and there was TV to be had. We have to ford three creeks as we drive the couple of miles over the hill and down our rocky road to Georgia’s. I was a little uncertain, not having experienced these creeks much yet when the water’s up, but I was relieved to see one of the “natives” on the road, so I felt better. Georgia was, of course, delighted to have the company. Georgia loves company, and she particularly loves the Princess. I headed back home, and when it was time to pick her up, remembered that 17 and 15 would have to come that way, the long way, so I arranged for 17 to bring the Princess back with him. By the time they got back, here’s how things were looking even here up on our high ground.
This is the bridge that crosses our driveway. From this direction, you can see the concrete that reinforces this side of our bridge (the side that takes the brunt of rushing water). The creek is nearly overflowing the banks.
This is looking out at the creek from the other side of our bridge. The creek goes out to the road where there is another bridge across the road. This direction on the road is the access to the river ford. You can see here where this bridge has failed and the water washed out the road yesterday.
This is a road, not a creek……..
I was so relieved by now that my children were already home. Our electricity came on for awhile then went back off.
Later, I went down the driveway again and here is how our creek looked.
The sound of this rushing water is so loud.
The washed out road as it looked later. No one will be driving down to the river ford again for awhile. Not until the state road people fix this.
I walked down to the river. It was frightening to see how high it was.
Believe it or not, this is the river ford, a spot where people cross the river in their cars every day. Not right now….. Water is scary.
You can see a picture here of how the river ford usually looks (on a good day, when you could drive across it). Note that the river looked nowhere close to what it was yesterday the day I killed my car in it–even I wouldn’t drive into that. I was scared just standing next to it.
Take the high ground!!