A Muchness of Flooding

I live in the Fraser Valley, which is basically one giant flood plain. The Fraser River itself has been dyked and dredged and largely contained, although it’s done some spectacular flooding in the past (the last major flood was in 1948, when 50,000 normally arable acres were inundated by early snowmelt). And pretty much all of the residential areas have some degree of protection. But there are still large tracts of farmland that lie maybe 6” above the normal level of the streams and tributaries running through them.

Monday night we had 2” of rain and all those little streams were eager to share. On my way into Fort Langley I passed a brand new seasonal lake, brought to us courtesy of the Salmon River, a-swarm with migrating ducks. There were 3 Great Blue Herons stilting their way through the sodden fields, and a few stray seagulls. The only trace of the original watercourse was a forlorn string of trees that normally lines its banks.

In 1997, the summer after Chickadee was born, the Fraser came close to overflowing in a few places. My now-ex-husband and I used to walk our Border Collies along a lovely, dog-friendly trail that ran along the outside of the railway embankment. Normally the trail ran about 6' above the level of the river - there was a 4' bank, and then a sloping sandy shore that ran another couple of feet down to the water. For a few weeks that summer, walking along the trail meant wading through waist-deep water. The dogs had to swim the entire way, which confused them a little - we'd see them exchanging puzzled glances every so often, as if to say "Didn't there used to be ground here? I'm sure we used put our feet on something ... hey, is that a duck?!?" (Border Collies are bright, but they have fairly short attention spans for anything that doesn't involve sheep.)

I haven't been back to that trail in years - I don't live in Fort Langley any more, and the Wing of Nut is too old and arthritic to do much walking (plus he went through a prolonged stretch of agoraphobia, lasting several years, that as far as we could tell arose from a fear of alien abduction. That particular stretch of trail, along with most of my other favourite walks, was apparently infested with aliens and so he refused to walk it - rather than risk abduction on the off chance he might get to swim, he'd cower by the car in hopes of avoiding detection. He only started going for walks again when my sister had her dog fitted with one of those microchip ID tags - I guess the WoN decided if the aliens were going to grab anyone, it'd be the guy with the implant. In his case, senility has been something of a blessing really.)