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Pat’s Bits & Pieces- Waterfront — all around us

Pat Maurer, Review Correspondent

Over the years, the Old Farmer’s Almanac has said more than once that March is the most changeable month.

Normally I would agree with that, but not this year, when January has been, for lack of a better description, an “interesting” month.

We have had warm weather, over 60 degrees in fact, sunny days (quite a few) seasoned with occasional snowstorms, followed by high winds and rain, then frigid (single digit) weather in the past couple of weeks, more rain, a thunderstorm or two and now spring flooding, with another cold snap expected before the end of the month arrives tomorrow (Thursday).

This must be Michigan.

It is so entertaining, living out here on the Tobacco, and enjoyable most of the time.

Not very enjoyable this morning (Wednesday) though, with the river on the rise again. It is up about four (perpendicular) feet higher than normal, and has filled the back and side yard to within three feet of the edge of the deck.

The last time it got this close was March 6, 2004. That time, before the deck was added, it was within six feet of the southeast corner of the house and we watched huge carp, otters and mallards swimming in the back yard.

When it floods that river can be a scary thing.

We have lived here for nearly 28 years now and have watched the water rise and fall many times.

In September of 1986 for a day and a half, this house was actually “in” the river, not on it. Everyone over 35 remembers that fall I think.

When the Tobacco, or any river floods, it is like a raging animal, and the only thing you can do is watch it come, and if it gets too close, get out of its way. We did just that back then, moved everything “up” into the highest part of the house, and ourselves “out,” and the next day came back to clean up the mess left behind.

Since then we have been pretty lucky I guess, and although that river floods to varying degrees nearly every year, it usually just fills up portions of the back and side yards.

In 2004 it got higher than it has since that major flood in ‘86 and I have to admit we were both pretty nervous before the water started going down again that time.

Once again this morning we are “watching the water” to see if it will continue to rise, or if it will now start going back down again. So far it is still rising but very, very slowly and I’m hoping that means it has “peaked,” or is almost at its’ limit for this time.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the Clare City Police, who are always on hand to let some of the water out of Lake Shamrock before it can cause an even worse flood.

This morning, after picking up the granddaughters, who are enjoying their third snow day this week, we took a drive around Clare just to see where the water was highest. In town it was highest in the Little Tobacco Drain between McEwan and Maple Streets. Elsewhere it is highest right here in our yard, although the Clare VFW property is a close second on that one.

The wildlife around here takes this sort of thing in stride. The rising water didn’t stop the birds and one very fat fox squirrel from raiding the feeder, even though the river was only about five steps away.

The bench on the point is, of course, almost completely underwater. The ones on the deck next to the edge of the river (on a normal day) only have their backs showing, and the river once again is coursing right through the middle of the back yard.

Standing at the window and watching the water inch towards the house, it makes me wonder what ever possessed us to want to live on a river.

Guess we have to expect some bad times occasionally, when most of the time living out here is pretty great.

Next summer, when I am watching the grandkids “fishing for minnows” swimming, or when I am sitting on deck in the evening and listening to the water bubble over the rocks in midstream, I probably won’t even remember this morning…

Those are the times when I know exactly why we live out here.