Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ice, Pain & Death (#215)

Every year for the last four, a mid-winter thaw accompanied by heavy rainfall has resulted in flooding in the creek across from my house. Winter floods aren't just about too much water. They're about too much water surging under the frozen surface, heaving up chunks of ice ranging in size from a football to a truck, and sending them hurtling downstream.

The mass of broken ice respects no boundaries. It overflows the banks and surges across and through groves of trees. It flattens saplings, removes topsoil, wounds, and even kills century-old trees.

It's a stark and savagely beautiful reminder of nature's power, as the photos below illustrate. Remember to click each picture if you wish to see a larger version.

It starts innocently enough, mild and misty.

A few hours later, a 2nd creek appears, roughly paralleling the first, flooding the paved path and littering the area with scattered ice.

A couple of days later, the water recedes. The ice will remain for weeks in the field and months in the woods. Let's take a look upstream.

The path is blocked here but still navigable, if one is careful. (I've only fallen three times.)

Farther along, it becomes impassable for all but billy goats and young teens. This mass below is the size of two football fields. I have to take a wide detour around it.

The destruction is not without beauty.

In the background of the above photo you can make out a felled cedar. It breaks my heart to see these magnificent old warriors toppled.

Some receive wounds from which they'll recover. But the scars will last forever.

Trees aren't the only living things imperiled by the flooding. Fish unable to withstand the rushing water are lifted up and deposited far from the creek's normal course. When the water recedes, they die. In the photo below, a 10-lb. rainbow trout lies on the ground, a full 200 yards from the creek.

If you're at all squeamish, avoid the next photo. It's a closer look at the trout. You can see where a bird, probably a crow or gull had a meal. Interestingly, the next day, the trout was gone. Something big enough to carry off a fairly large fish had done so. I couldn't spot any drag marks nearby, nor were there any bones or other remnants indicative of a meal on the spot. My guess is a coyote or perhaps a pair of raccoons working as a team carried off the prize.

Well, let's not end this one on a gloomy, unattractive note. On a crisp, clear winter morning, it's easy to find beauty in the aftermath. (Most of those tracks were made by a muskrat.)


Hilary said...

It sure seems to be worse this year than last. The scarring on those trees is saddening and the fallen ones are heartbreakers. The mist sure ads a beauty to the destruction though.

I'll email you the instructions to open pics in a new window.

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Hil. It worked! :)

Leah J. Utas said...

Even destruction benefits some.

Skunkfeathers said...

Nature destroys, Nature renews. As for the trout...a Geico caveman carried off, only to see the ad on the side..."Geico: so easy, even a caveman can do it".

He threw the fish to a wandering polar bear or something....

Anonymous said...

Wow! On one hand, it's beautiful, but on the other hand, I sure hate to see the death and destruction. That's part of life though, isn't it? Thanks for sharing those pictures.

Dianne said...

nature both beautiful and ruthless
wonderful photos

Anonymous said...

Looks pretty rough out there. Great photos! The Bach

Frank Baron said...

True, Leah. But right now, most of what is obvious is localized carnage.

Skunky, I had to Google a little. We don't have those commercials in Canada. At least, I haven't seen any. Thanks for the visit. :)

Thank you for the visit, Poppy. :)

Thanks, Dianne. :)

Thanks Bach. I appreciate you taking the time. :)

Bernita said...

You took me back.
I remember ice cakes three and four feet thick heaved on the banks of the river near where I grew up and the roar and grind of break-up loud in the night.

Reb said...

Even at her worst, mother nature is beautiful.

Into The Maze said...

Oh it is so pretty! I love things like this... Destruction, but natural destruction. It's quite beautiful.

Frank Baron said...

Powerful, isn't it Bernita?

True, Reb.

Yes it is, Maze.

Thanks all, for the visit. :)

Thumbelina said...

Whenever we see the beauty of God's creations, we also get a glimpse of the power too. Vividly portrayed here - I can't believe the size of those ice chunks and how far they spread!
That last shot is very picturesque. (Or picture-skew as my dad would say, tongue in cheek.)

Grayquill said...

Living here in the Pacific Northwest the seasons are mild I forget nature can swing such a harsh swath. Those ice pictures were striking. I tried to imagine how hard walking would be. For sure younger bones than mine would be required.
It was a pleasure - Thanks!

Frank Baron said...

Your dad sounds like fun, Thumbelina. And what the pictures can't convey is the hardness and weight of the ice. Few living things can withstand it.

Grayquill, I definitely need to be careful when negotiating the ice. At 58+, I don't bounce as well as I used to. ;)

The Unbreakable Child said...

savage, brutal and beautiful. enjoyed the pictures and post, frank.

butchadams said...

Hi Frank, yes I started posting my photos again after a few months off. I walked to within 20 ft. of that little fox. Really sorry about your creek. In 2008 we had the worst flood in Brouilletts Creek here in west central Indiana in over 50 yrs. There are still huge old trees tossed up against the banksides,but the creek channel is back to its used to be. I'll check out some of your friends sites today if you don't mind. thanks for the visit. Butch

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Kim, I appreciate it. :)

Hiya Butch. And thank you for the return howdy. :)

Anonymous said...

So Baron,
You been fishing again?... tell me your fish story... go ahead and make it a good one! :) The Bach

Travis Erwin said...

I found both the words and pics fascinating. We have cold and ice but it never lasts long enough for me to see this in person.

Shammickite said...

more blog-comment-spam? they get everywhere don't they.
So far this winter, there hasn't been too much of that kind of weather where I live.
and Gander???? groan....

Frank Baron said...

Bach, the water is still mostly of the hard variety here. The thaw is underway though, so hopefully I'll wet a line soon.

Glad you found it interesting, Travis. Thanks for the visit. :)

They sure do, Shammy. Wish Blogger could do something about them. And the Gander thing was inspired!! ;)

Kappa no He said...

This is amazing, horrifying, beautiful...and woa! I do feel sad for the old trees though. Gorgeous photos.

Frank Baron said...

It's definitely all of the above, Terrie. Thanks. :)