Prissy German Tourist arrived early on Thursday afternoon, bearing his kit and gallery visiting clothes on hangers. He installed these in our spare bedroom while I made a pot of chai tea for our refreshment. He came out into the kitchen muttering about how foolish he felt having left his camera at home. He and that camera are inseparable!
We sat sipping tea, conversing, while waiting for Barb and Lucky to call and say they were ready to get rolling and go downtown. We were looking over brochures of the Getty, and other LA gallery bits and pieces when Barb called and announced she could not go with us as her 17 year-old daughter was having an anxiety attack and she felt uncomfortable leaving her. Then Lucky phoned and said she had run into a snag on her shift in the hospital and she would not be able to be ready before four thirty pm. PGT and I conferred and decided that we might as well pick up Lucky at her house since she was so keen to go to the gallery opening with us. Lucky returned to her duties and we sipped more tea and looked at some examples of contemporary LA art.
At the appropriate time we drove down to the dike road where Lucky and her family lived, on the river side of the dike. No TV crews and vans today there, no onlookers parked along the dike to get views of the swollen river and in their imaginations project images of the large houses there being deluged by a dangerously rising and voracious waters. We parked, rang the door-bell and walked to the lawn overlooking the river bank. Lucky joined us there in her stocking feet, and the three of us discussed a possibility of flooding.
Mark, Lucky’s husband, and their son, Brad, had filled many sand bags which were piled high in the only opening where the encroaching river might flow into their basement. The river had risen to the lower lawn of their property, was rushing by there, and their dock and its walkway no longer slanted down to river level. A family of Canada Geese were relaxing on this lower lawn – mother and father standing sentinel on three fuzzy goslings lolling on the grass. They seemed to have a sense of the dangerousness of the rushing water – the babies would have been separated from the parents – and they were waiting out this dangerous period!
Lucky felt sure enough that her home was in little danger this evening. The water level would fall with the outgoing tide. We piled into PGT’s little car and began the commute to the downtown gallery fairly confident that no major disaster would greet Lucky on her return later.
It rained on and off all weekend. For June, it has been unseasonably cold. Obsessive/Compulsive Shopaholic arrived at our house on Friday evening and complained how cold our house was. Rumpole turned on the furnace, in spite of my protestations. PGT and OCS received their extra blankets and repaired to their bedroom. I stayed up late and turned the furnace off.
In the morning OCS prevailed on Rumpole to drive her to the BIG Mall for her shopping spree. PGT and I set up the laptop in the dining room and looked at 300 photos of his trip to LA. Boy, is that place ever dry looking, and smoggy! A couple of hours later, PGT went back to bed to rest up for his expected foray to the BIG Mall to join OCS and engage in the sparring that always took place whenever they were negotiating what she could and could not purchase.
Martha phoned. “Let’s go down to the little wharf and see the state of the river.” Martha is also concerned about the height of our river, and how it might impact on all living in our neighbourhood. She brought some goodies for us to chow down on while we did our inspection, and off we drove.
There was a Scotch Mist kind of rain falling when we arrived at the wharf. A few people had also gathered there, curious. We picked our way carefully across the wet-slicked railroad tracks onto the wharf and huddled there in our rainjackets. The river had swallowed the Provincial campground directly across from where we stood, had flown between the trunks of trees there. It rushed by at amazing speed, carrying logs, branches and dangerous-looking snags. We watched for a long time as a police vessel struggled upstream against the raging current, the only vessel to be seen on the water. This boat seemed to make very little headway against the power of the current, sometimes it appeared to be going backwards, and we watched its strained progress upstream in the silty yellow-green river. We stayed, slightly wet, for some time more and gazed at this powerful unconstrained force.
Once back at my house, we roused PGT and dried ourselves while drinking tea. OCS phoned and demanded PGT’s presence at the Mall, and off he went, grumbling and complaining about having to spend another two or three hours wrestling with his wife’s penchant for buying what he calls “useless stuff”. Martha and I debated further whether or not the river would breach its bank on our side. “Call Mark and get an update from him” she demanded.
So, I phoned Mark. He has made his living on the river for the past 25 years, and seemed pretty calm about its current status. He explained that with the tidal in and outflows on the river it rose in the morning hours, and then its levels fell toward the evening. “I think we will be all right tonight”, he reported.
The Fraser River is a long river and is fed into upcountry by the Skeena, Bulkley, Nass and Thompson Rivers. The Skeena has flooded out some people, and it is the added volume from these rivers that threatens communities downstream – Prince George, Quesnel, and the farming areas of the lower Fraser Valley: Hope, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Matsqui, Langley and Pitt Meadows.
Today, it is raining here, and yet the immediate danger of flooding has abated, for now. However, for the next three weeks the flood watch will be maintained.