Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December Rains

Santa Has a Tree for Me
Our Tree is Tagged & Legal
Frozen Grouse Creek on Dec. 5, 2015
Swollen Grouse Creek on Dec. 9, 2015
Pooling Flood Water
Nearing the Bridge
Churning & Muddy
Swollen Waves
Road Wash Out
A thin crust of ice clings to shadows as Todd and I shop for a Christmas tree. He likes the firs with their short needles, and I like the thick pines. We measure height with our eyes and try to imagine this one or that in our living room.

Finally, we agree on a tree and he gets the handsaw.

Our lot is the wide open Kiniksu National Forest, and we have a $5 permit with a "Merry Christmas" greeting from the Forest Service. It might lack mugs of cocoa or a red-suited Santa you'd find in town, but I like shopping for a tree in the forest.

Until I look down and see lynx tracks. That's when I notice the deer carcass and head to the truck. No way do I want to get caught between a hungry wild cat and her dinner. We pick another tree, and I say I like it better. It's better because it's not located in the lynx dining room.

Turns out it's a hemlock. Not a bad choice, but we are both surprised as we load it in the truck. We have to carry it because where there's not snow in shadows, there's mud. Two winters ago we had to trek through waist deep snow to find our Christmas tree. Now we are driving along Grouse Creek, tires slipping on mud.

We cut the tree on Saturday because we had a lull in the drizzling rain. On Sunday it returned. Though I wait for it to turn to snow, the rain continues to patter on our metal roof. The moisture is needed, but so is snow. Without the cold, the water saturates the ground. Snow is like a container and it (should) release the moisture as spring thaw comes on gradually.

Last year the thaw came early and quick. By the time the rivers would normally be close to flood stage, we were entering a drought. Yet, if you look at precipitation, we had a "normal" year. Cold plays a dynamic role in our Inland Pacific Northwest climate.

At 2 am last night it was 52 degree F. Crazy warm! And the rain poured relentlessly. The flooding began a few hours later. We went up both the Pack River and Grouse Creek to marvel at the natural disaster. The road we had just slipped down with our tree a few days ago is gone in places. The icy river is now churning pale chocolate milk. Logs look like sticks riding the rapids.

When the road washed out before us, Todd kept driving. Yes, I panicked. He found it funny. The only way I could calm down was to point my camera and film. Watching the screen diverted my eyes from watching the washout road. Not a prize-winning piece of journalism, but you can watch the video here.

There's something unnerving about how quickly water can displace rock. It's as if water plays nicely and goes through proper channels only because it agrees to this arrangement. We build up around it and one day water turns rebellious and destroys all we've built -- bridges, road, houses, pastures.

It's receding and we'll muck out the debris water left in it's wake. At least we got our Christmas Tree before the road washed out.

The photos I'm sharing via Abracabadra's Wordless Wednesday Link up. The photos are mine, as well as the words.

I'm not really word-less.


  1. Scary it is how water appears to 'play nicely' and then turns so fast, destroying all in it's wake. So glad you got your Christmas tree and the lynx stayed away. I wonder if El Nino has something to do with your warmer weather which we're also experiencing here in the UK and all the rain and flooding that comes with it here too. Beautifully written as always Charli, glad you're safe and dry...

    1. El Nino was suppose to bring us a drought...hmm...I think the weather is making up it's own pattern! You stay dry and on high ground, too!

  2. Wow!!

    Nature fury better to be away from it, huh!
    Glad you got your christmas tree prior to all this, Charli.

    AS usual your pix had a story in parallel to narrate :) Awesome clicks and absolutely loved the fury of those waves.

    Pleasure to have you link up and wishing you a festive season ahead.

    1. Those waves certainly are mesmerizing! Thanks for hosting, Ruchira! This time of year is like Diwali with all the lights!