Mountain Mornings

Rising Waters

Pluvia, pluie, pioggia, and ua are words familiar to me only because they name “rain.” At the first drops, I happily skitter to the porch where the metal roof offers idyllic acoustics for enjoying a summer shower. How I love the patter, splatter, and gutter gurgles of rain!

Yet a few minutes ago as drops began falling and I opened to door to the porch, the intensity quickened and the shower became a downpour that unnerved me for a moment. Four days ago, driving back from Blue Ridge, I watched the light morning rain giving way to the remnants of tropical storm Fred. In Blairsville rain was falling in torrents and continued for several hours.

Water was rising under the bridge as I neared home, and soon, from the deck I could see the creek far out of the banks already. Within the hour it was at least sixty feet across and neighbors at the bridge called to say it was impassable, shuddering and collecting debris from the water crashing over it. I filled the bathtub—if the bridge went, our water and utilities would go, too. Booms were sounding from the creek as trees floating past collided with those standing strong along the banks. Folks in more vulnerable situations were surely fleeing their homes.

We are well above the creek; a winding switchback trail gets us to the firepit and swing set back from the water. White oaks and hickories shelter a hillside of mountain laurel, dogwoods, sourwoods, and rhododendrons. Keeping soil settled—and erosion at bay—are vital in mountain settings. The native plants we’ve added along the creekbank are sometimes relocated downstream in these flash floods, but a few are thriving.

Tomorrow I’ll try to clean up what’s been left behind in Wood Duck Park, as we’ve come to call the flat section by the creek. Clean-up often follows the rising levels, but our bridge has been threatened only twice before in fifteen years—once on a Christmas Eve. And next week as we learn more about how to help people in the area who aren’t as safely situated, I’ll be reminded to appreciate our sturdy little bridge, the sanctuary of our porch, and the sweetness of a gentle rain.