PICK UP STICKS

Since the drought broke, we’ve had lots of rain and most of it was gentle enough to soak into the ground without causing flooding. The most recent lot, though, was a reminder of what it’s like when the river and creek both swell and take over the land around them. A reminder of how the river stones are tumbled by the force of the water, banks are ripped and fences washed away.

This time we had plenty of warning, so Craig went to stay in town so he could get to his meetings, rather than being trapped here, as on some previous occasions.

Craig trying to get to work, 2016

After fretting about whether I should unbolt and move the river pump in case the river came that high, I went for a walk in the rain instead to watch the show. In the time I edged past the flooded section of road to the swimming hole and back, the river had risen 20cm or so. While I was there, two enormous logs came in, circled in the still shallow eddy (normally the road), then paraded out again, until they were whipped away by the main current.

From the top of the rocks, where usually you can see dozens of rocky islands in the main stream, everything was one great rumpled blanket of water. Huge standing waves downstream of the bigger islands were the only markers of their rocky existence. All the lower-down casuarinas were invisible, being pushed relentlessly sideways.

In the middle of the river, the two logs I’d watched were just disappearing around the far bend. They were being followed by a long procession of other tree trunks, bucking over the invisible islands and charging away downstream. Most were well dead and stripped of branches. They may have had a few previous flood-floating sessions, and been lifted again by the water from where they’d come to rest last time.

A couple of huge trees came down the current, leaves, branches and all, their limbs waving like the sails of a galleon. These ones jerked even more wildly as branches struck the hidden rocks, then charged onwards.

It was hypnotic to watch, but it started to rain again.

I came back the following day after the water sank a little, to see if the road was clear of logs. Luckily no chainsawing was required, as the only log had positioned itself conveniently to the side. I picked up the sticks, with no help at all from the dog.

The creek waterfall was also thundering with much less violence than the previous day. The creek crossing was high, but again, no logs on the deck.

We’ve yet to fish the foot valve for the river pump out of the tree where it has lodged. We’ll have to wait to use it until the river is less stirred up. At the moment it’s still a porridge of ash and mud from 2020 fires and drought-bared ground upstream. It would fill up the filter within moments.

Still it’s a joy to see water in the landscape.

5 thoughts on “PICK UP STICKS

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    1. Thanks Shirley. The dog does look particularly confused there. Mainly she just wanted to jump in the river and swim around in circles, one of her favorite entertainments. She couldn’t understand why I didn’t want her covered in black slime from the floodwater.

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