March in Michigan

March 16, 2012

The Old Farmer’s Almanac says March is the most changeable month.

I tend to agree with that, especially in this part of Michigan, where in just the past week we have had sunny spring weather, torrential rain, high winds, a tornado watch, a little bit of flooding, in fact everything but a snowstorm – and I’m not ruling that out just yet…

Today it was over 75 degrees. I saw neighbor kids wearing shorts and tank tops.

It must be spring.

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

Not enjoyable all the time  though. Some springs that river can turn into a unbelievable torrent overnight. The other day, we got enough rain to make the level rise almost to the top of the banks.

A few years back in March of 2004, the river came up over the banks – nearly six feet higher than normal, and peaked out just six feet away from the southeast corner of the house.

When it floods that river can be a scary thing.

We have lived here for almost 27 years now and have watched the water rise and fall several times. In September of 1986 for a day and a half, we actually lived “in” the river, not on it. It made us wonder if living out here was “worth it.”

When the Tobacco floods, it is like a muddy brown 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” 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 nearly every year at some point, it usually just fills up mostly the back and side yards.

In 2004it gave us a little scare. It got higher than it has since that major 1986 flood, pretty close to the house in fact, and I have to admit Jack and I were both pretty nervous before the water started going down again.

In fact, anytime it rains hard, we remember 1986 and both watch the river pretty closely.

When it floods it’s scary, but still pretty entertaining. I remember watching a huge carp swim right through the center of the back yard that last time it flooded.  Last year we watched an empty canoe make it’s way downstream. We never did find out where that came from.

This year, we haven’t had enough snow for this recent “thaw” to cause even a slight problem. The river got pretty high but it didn’t get out of the banks at all.

When the river behaves, you don’t even remember those times staying up most of the night to watch how high the water rises. Guess we have to expect some bad times occasionally, but most of the time living out here is pretty great.

And, in the summer, when I am watching the grandkids “fishing for minnows,” swimming, or wading in the shallows, or when I am sitting on the old steps by the river’s edge in the evening and listening to the water bubble over the rocks in midstream, I don’t remember the scary times at all.

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

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