We had torrential rain here last night and into early this morning. For most it is just an inconvenience…dealing with umbrellas and traffic snarls. For me, it can be problematic, because I am at the mercy of my creek.
My creek is an enigma. Technically a creek is a stream that is smaller than a river. You can’t get more ambiguous than that. And depending on the weather, neither can my creek.
When you drive up the road leading into my farm, you have to cross the creek which is about fifteen feet wide. Most days it is only a few inches deep and the bottom is slate so it is almost like driving over a puddle on wet pavement. Really. But sometimes when it rains hard…all bets are off….and here is where our island adventure begins.
I’m a Pisces…a water sign. If you look at the astrological symbol for Pisces, it’s two fish swimming in opposite directions…one upstream, one downstream. I’m one of the upstream swimming Pisces…but I’m all right with it. I like swimming against the current…it’s challenging and I’ve got great arms because of it.
My relationship with water began at a young age. We had a town pool where I grew up. They offered swimming lessons at the beginning of the summer in the hope that it would lessen the number of kids the lifeguards had to rescue for the next two months.
Before the bigger kids would be allowed on the diving board they had to line up, dive in, and swim the length of the pool from the shallow end to the deep end. I would automatically line up with them, only to be plucked out at the last minute because I was in the “minnow” class and wasn’t allowed to swim yet. Uh-huh.
There was always an abundance of pretty teenage girls who got to the pool early to get the good chairs by the lifeguards.
One morning when the lifeguard at the shallow end was…distracted…I found myself at the front of the line. When the whistle blew…I dove in. My Mother was sitting with the rest of the mothers. When she saw all the commotion she knew immediately it had to have something to do with me.
She calmly walked over to the pool and watched as the lifeguards ran up the length of it trying to snag me with the rescue hook as I swam serpentine back and forth across the water until I finally made it to the far side of the deep end.
Back then…in the olden days as my son likes to call them…bathing suits were made out of cotton…not spandex like they are now. When I got to the end, I stuck my hand up on the side of the pool and the lifeguard reached down and grabbed me by the back of my bathing suit. I had to suffer the humiliation of an atomic wedgie while he dangled me like a wet rag and pulled me out of the water.
My Mother never even flinched. And I know she wasn’t on Xanax because it wasn’t invented yet. I’m sure the other mothers cringed and pulled their babies close as my Mother collected my brothers and sisters and me and took us over to the picnic tables where the non-swimmers were making lanyards. My Mom invented diffusing a situation.
The good news…I wasn’t a “minnow” anymore and I could get in line to swim from the shallow end to the deep end as long as the lane ropes were up and I stayed in a straightish line.
As a Pisces, it is only fitting that I live near a challenging waterway. I want to say, for the record, that I totally respect the power of water. Sadly, I have always had issues with authority.
Let me share with you a precautionary tale.
Shortly after we bought this farm, we decided to fly down from New York to check on the progress of the road we were having put in. We rented a car at the airport and drove out to the Ponderosa. It was raining and when we drove up to the creek, it looked a little deeper than we last remembered it.
My ex-husband shrugged. “Roll down the windows.” Then he uttered the three little words that have since become my theme song…”just in case“.
“Roll down the windows just in case”?!?
We drove the rental car into the creek. It died in the middle of it. The water was up to the windows.
He was already cursing as he climbed out of the window, which luckily, was open. He headed up the hill to the barn to get the old tractor that we had bought the summer before, so he could pull the car out of the creek. I sat there thinking it was a good thing we took out that extra insurance at the rental counter…the one everyone says is a rip-off.
Let me interject here that at the time of this incident my ex was doing a t.v. show called “Rescue 911”. The show hired stunt people like us to coordinate and re-enact mishaps and bizarre accidents, usually involving people in situations that they never should have been in. In the words of the fabulous Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
In this case, “stupid” was still sitting in the car…hello…
So…I’m sitting there when suddenly a log came barreling down the creek right toward the car. Oh no…
The log hit the side of the car, turned it backwards and I started moving downstream on our raging white-water creek headed toward the Cumberland River. I remember thinking if I survived I could play myself in the re-enactment…always working the angle…gotta love that about me.
Miraculously the car got stuck on a downed tree and I was able to climb out of my window…which was also open…I listen when it counts.
When I stood up in the creek it was waist deep and really moving fast. I trudged up the hill where I caught up with my ex. He was putt-putting down the hill on LuLu (yes…I named the tractor). She had two flat tires.
I told him the car got washed down the creek.
“Don’t @#$!ing exaggerate.” As he said this the car swept by. It got stuck again and we managed to pull it out with the tractor…onto the wrong side.
We were pretty much stuck there because the entire farm is surrounded by creeks, so it is sort of like living on an island.
While he was pulling the car up away from the water with the tractor with two flat tires, I volunteered to wade back out and call a tow truck. This was a foolish thing to do, as moving water is extremely dangerous, and I know better…but it’s me…so there you go.
The water was up to my armpits. Stupid thing to do, but I made it out. The tow truck came after a while…I don’t have to tell you how pleasant that wait wasn’t…and they pulled the car to the street side of the creek.
Miraculously, the car started, but we weren’t taking any more chances. With our extra rental car insurance in hand, I called the airport and they sent out another car on a flatbed to replace this one. They said that if it didn’t look damaged we would not have to go back to the airport to fill out an accident report. We bailed out all the water and crossed our fingers.
As the tow truck driver raised the car up onto the flatbed, water poured from everywhere. We followed him back to the airport to fill out an accident report. The sun came out…mocking us.
What they say about the weather in Tennessee is true…wait ten minutes and it will change. It’s true about the creeks here too.
Life’s lessons continue to be remedial for me. Right after my son got his driver’s license we bought him an older car. “You can’t have a new car because you’re a new driver and there is a learning curve.”
One rainy morning I drove his car into the same creek EVEN THOUGH I KNEW BETTER. It didn’t make it. Enough said.
This morning I drove down to the creek. The water was rushing merrily along. There were whitecaps on it. I backed up the road and came home.
There won’t be a third drive into the drink…not today anyway.
The moral of this story…if you ever ask me for advice don’t start with “What would you do in this situation?” I’m just saying….
Day Three Hundred and Forty Six…take chances…just not stupid ones. ; )