Monday, June 22, 2009

Soggy-tuck Michigan

The rain started coming down this weekend where I was working. I've told you about Saugatuck before; quaint little artsy town on the shores of Lake Michigan. 1,000 people before tourists. Three times that in the summer, lots of wandering folks and girls like me, in town to work at a wonderful gallery in the center of town.

The rain started coming down on Friday as we drove in, making us weave and crawl our way through miles and miles of road construction barriers and cones in a one-by-one curtain of mud-flap spray and blurred tail lights. Every warning about hydro-planing my drivers ed. teacher Mr. Peacock ever gave me came to mind. Visibility was just this side of zip. The sun broke through and pushed the clouds away just as we arrived. Good sign.

But it started raining again and it just kept coming down. We grabbed umbrellas mid-evening and walked a quick 2 blocks to dinner. The rain kept coming down. And down. And dowwwwwwn. We saw lightning. We heard thunder. The restaurant lights flickered. Once. Twice. Diners held their breath and shoveled in supper, wondering if we'd all end up in the dark.

An hour later when we stepped outside the restaurant we found ourselves on a small sidewalk island in an ocean of rain water. Within 4-5 steps beyond the entry of the place the "puddles" started.

I hesitate to call them puddles. Puddles are the sort of thing that babies splash up from the bath. Puddles are the naughty little pools that a new puppy leaves on the kitchen floor when he can't hold back how happy he is to see you. I know puddles. People drool them on pillows.
I savor them in the middle of my mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. I KNOW puddles.
These were not puddles. These were more like the arms of nearby Lake Michigan reaching up from the banks and shoving her hands down the street where she could pull you in by the ankles. I am not kidding you, when I stepped off the restaurant stoop into that water I swear I saw the Edmund Fitzgerald and wondered if the church bells were going to ring for me tomorrow. This was SERIOUS WATER.

There was no avenue of escape, we just had to take off our shoes and wade, lamp post to lamp post until we made it back to our little guest house. That's just what we did. And you know how it is, you're in the water, you're wet. Why not preserve the moment in photographs.

So I stopped in the middle of the street, pulled out my camera, protected it (sort of) with my umbrella (which had blown inside out, so it wasn't providing a great deal of protection from anything really anyway) and took a couple of pictures of my friends Sandra and Angie they clung to one another for dear life and made their way up the sidewalk in front of me.

I'll bet your are looking at that picture and thinking "is that water really almost up to her skirt?" Yes, it was. Had the three of us held hands, pointed our toes and done a little bit of a wavy thing with our arms we could easily have been mistaken for a synchronized swimming team. Sorry the photos are blurry. I was trying to balance the camera and the umbrella and my purse with my shoes in my hands. You get the idea.

Wet. Really, reallllly wet.

We finally reached our little second floor guest house where I slept like a baby with the wind in the treetops outside my open window. The sounds of storms continued well into the wee hours of the morning. It was only as the sun came up that everyone in town began to discover their basements were flooded, the roads were caved in, trees had uprooted and all those fabulous bedding plants they'd tucked into the ground a few weeks earlier were halfway to Chicago.

We know all about floods here in Iowa.
As we left yesterday I told them all our hearts were with them but really, it was too early for them to even understand what I meant. Unfortunately, they'll come to understand all too clearly..........later.

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