How high’s the water, mama?
Three feet high and rising
How high’s the water, Mama?
Six feet high and rising…
“Get up! Get out! Go to higher ground! The river is already over the low water bridge,” came the dire warning–accompanied by a loud knock on the trailer door.
My concentration was shot all to heck after being awakened brutally at two in the morning. My wife grabbed our three-year-old grandson–still in pajamas. Essentials were packed as quickly as possible–clothesline and barbecue grill left behind.
Swift river water lapped the edge of the campsite. Trees yielded to the sledgehammer force of mighty floodwaters with loud cracks and pops. Darkness added to the terror. It was still raining.
Led out of the campground, somewhere in the middle of a caravan. All of us were now wide-awake. Water stood everywhere in low spots. Park rangers directed us to a campground road on a hillside. There were no hookups. It was primitive camping from that point forward. Facilities were about a quarter-mile up the road.
Would the river recede in time to get to work? Would we have to be ferried across by helicopter or boat? There were many questions to be answered in the next thirty-six hours.
Angry brown floodwaters flowed through the valley campground the next morning. The top of our picnic table was still above water. Some of our firewood floated willy-nilly. At least the rain stopped. Nobody was swept away. The ranger said six inches of rain fell overnight.
I wondered if three-year-old Alex knew how panicked his grandparents were the night before. He showed no signs of stress. I made numerous trips to the playground. It was there he made an observation–well beyond his years, “Grandpa, I really like the monkey bars, but they scare the hell out of me.”
Another gem of wisdom, came the next night at the nature show. The park rangers explained differences between reptiles and mammals. Alex grabbed my arm; looked at me with innocent brown eyes, “Grampa, he was talking about Mamaws.” I smiled–we’d be sure to mention it to grandma back at the camper.