10 April 2011

When you live in an ancient lake basin...

My mother likes to talk about Lake Agassiz. Maybe it's because she's a former elementary school teacher, but it's a little embarrassing, actually, to bring friends home from college and have them get Myra's lecture on The Big Lake. But she's right. I know she's right everytime we leave this valley, and my ears pop like I'm on an airplane because I'm not used to the elevation.

So it surprises no one that our basement (hell, everyone's basement in the eleven county area) takes on water this time of year. I honestly don't know why so many of us have basements, even. And every year I swear I'm going to be ready for it, and every year I get pissed off when it shows up. Really, really pissed off.

Today, I cursed the rain, my basement, the people who built this house, the people who sold us this house, my realtor, the guy at Menard's who sold me a lousy 8 gallon wetvac, my grandparents for settling in this area, the length of my own pants, my dad for having a stroke instead of staying well and living long enough to help me with this crap, gravity, those disgusting little centipedes that curl up and die all over my basement, linoleum, the nasty consistency of wet cardboard, and Lake Agassiz.

(I emptied the wetvac 5.5  times in 20 minutes. That's right. 44 gallons of water. The first photo is of my basement, just an hour after I got rid of 44 gallons of water. The second photo is my damn stupid long pants.)

I know, geologically, that this is what we deserve. But it doesn't mean I have to like it.


Anonymous said...

Even though I've never lived there, I was raised with a healthy knowledge and respect for Lake Agassiz. Of all natural disasters, flooding is just so inexorable. You can see it coming from miles, weeks away and do nothing about it. Maybe that's part of why I live where I do, just a mile or so from the Mississippi, but hundreds feet above flood stage. Although technically not impossible, flooding is mighty unlikely in my house.

During the 1997 flood, when the fires in E Grand Forks were making national news, I was in CA on business. Everyone kept asking me about it. On the one hand, it was kind of annoying that people didn't realize that the flooding was happening 300 miles away from where I lived. On the other hand, I did know exactly what was happening and had friends and family directly impacted.

I remember the '79 flood, my parents helping sandbag, me too young to help.

And of course, the two biggest floods so far captured on video were devastating and mesmerizing, I couldn't stop watching. New Orleans after Katrina and last month in northern Japan. For hours I watched that wall of water sweep across the land, picking up cars, houses, everything...

Dawn Mason said...

I've been thinking about you guys a lot, and finally, I see The Red on national news today.

May you have better days ahead.