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Monday, December 13, 2010

A Flood of News from the Valley…

…and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Job 1:15

Ok, so I’m guilty of a bit of hyperbole here. We allLLoup awash S, didn’t we, escaped the latest threat of inundation here in the Valley. This morning Gladys and I rode out to see what was awash after the Pineapple Express steamrolled through.

We crank our way down to Swiss Hall where I expect to see the customary “Road Closed” sign centered at the entrance to the Lower Loop road, but we pedal on by without the warning. This latest flood event—a tempest in a teapot, I think, and continue on our regular route.

Just past Andy’s driveway there’s a warning sign. Gladys and I pedal on until we reach the curve south of Andy’s house where suddenly we scrunchhhh to a stop (wet brakes, old gal) because here the road has been swallowed up by a water hazard. Forward progress halted. Gladys and I tally up our many years’ experience. Even though we have ridden this stretch countless times, we know better than to test the flood waters—especially with that brazen current rushing south. It’s about face for both of us and we reverse course.

We bank the corner and I notice a small, red SUV slowing ahead. “Ah, ha,” I think. “Didn’t heed that sign, did you!” The car stops and I see a young blonde- headed gal step out, camera in hand. Herald Reporters  Deb and Sara She kneels and starts snapping the shutter. I pedal straight at her a bit but then in deference to a photo in the making, I swerve. Apparently I’m part of landscape because she follows me—or maybe it’s Gladys who’s the attraction here. Ah, Gladys—your first paparrazi. We’re about to pass when the driver gets out, stops us, and wants to know if she can ask me a question or two. She hauls out a pen and notepad. “We’re from the Everett Herald,” she says and hands me a card that reads, “Debra Smith, Reporter.” The Herald, eh! Trying to scoop the Valley Ripple…we’ll see about that! Ha! The nerve. Yes, the Herald is out in our Valley, scoopin’ up the news. It’s the news meeting the news—and I tell them about the Valley Ripple, give them the address. Debra and her photographer Sara (if I owe you an “h,” Sara[h], I’m sorry, but girls and their names these days…). Deb asks me a few questions but seems to be more interested in my ride. “You mean, Gladys?” I say and I launch into my steed’s bio. I answer Deb’s questions and tell her I’m retracing my route to the water hazard on the other end—as any dedicated journalist would. “So are we,” she says. I head out again, thinking, “Jeez, my first interview with the real news. Why didn’t I shave this morning?”

Gladys and I backtrack along the upper Loop. We stop when I get to the bridge over the slough and I take note of the sludge on the bridge decking. The sign has it right, I think.

Waters over troubled bridgeOn down the road we encounter another warning sign indicating the aforementioned water hazard.Flood waters ahead We’ve been to the other side, so there are no surprises here and on we roll toward the south end of the hazard.

Gladys—you have to give the old gal credit-- she’s up to the crossing even though her companion balks. But Glady, bless her--wisdom comes with winters—is no fool. She goes just so far and reason kicks in. It’s a no go, and we turn around once more.Gladys tests the watersHigh and dry back on the upper Loop, we meet Kevin Olson who lives in the rustic little house just north of the upper Loop bridge over Riley Slough. I’ve waved at Kevin a number of times as I’ve passed by. Wished him a “Happy Fourth of July,” just this past summer, in fact.Kevin Olson, survivor I’ve often wondered how his place fared during Valley flood events. Like a good reporter, I have all these questions I want to ask him, but I hold off because of priorities-- Kevin’s impressive moustache. It’s a winner, I tell him and share a comment I read in a William Kennedy novel: “It’s not a moustache unless you can see it from behind.” Kevin’s got himself an impressive set of handlebars there—even going away.

Kevin’s neat little homestead rubs elbows with Riley Slough. He has lived in the Valley for twenty-two years. I’m wondering how flood events have affected him. Kevin has stayed home from work today to monitor the flooding slough. “How’d you fare in ‘90?” I asked. “That was the big one, our worst. The water came up to the floor joists, to our second doorway step. We spent the night in the Victorian next door. The Van Ness’s let us stay with them.” “And in ‘06?” I asked. “Not a problem,” Kevin said. “You know, every event is different; just when you expect the worst, things play out ok,” he said, and knuckled his ballcap a couple of times. And I can’t tell you how many times we’ve done the same thing—and the wood has yet to be waterlogged.

It was a good day in the Valley. Relief, perhaps, that so far this year we all, if not high, are still dry. And dry may we all stay here in the Valley each and every day, each and every year, each and everyone.

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