Finally last weekend, after months of extreme heat and little rain, we got our first summer flood. And it was a proper flood, isolating many small communities along the waterways that weave their way through the local river valleys. I realised that of all the things that I cherish about living here, it’s these flood days that I love the most. That might sound strange but floods are part of life here and, most of the time, they are an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the serenity. I think they’re also a rite of passage. You haven’t truly lived here until you’ve experienced a flood. I still remember the excitement of our first one. We couldn’t wait to get down to the river and watch the bridge disappear. We had three that first summer, one isolating us for 5 days and leaving us with out power for longer. Since that time we’ve had many more with each one a time for rich connection with family, neighbours and neighbours we never knew we had. Even hermits come out to inspect the river on flood days.
The joke goes that someone only has to pee upstream and our bridge goes under. However, this community has had its fair share of major floods too with devastating loss of livestock and property. Thankfully these floods are few and far between. Most of the time it’s a matter of making sure our neighbours and animals are ok and is there enough wine! I’m not alone in relishing these times of forced isolation. When the rains start and word gets out that a flood is on the way, town gets hectic with last minute dashes to the general store and the bottle shop before the bridges go under. There’s nothing better than being high and dry with enough supplies to last a week! Because floods give you permission to be as lazy and decadent as you like, to hang out at the river with your neighbours in your pyjamas, have a mud bath or drink wine and play board games all day. For our family this flood was all about food. We baked and made tagines in the slow cooker. And we lit our first fire for the season. Bliss.
Days like these have been local folklore for generations threading through the lives of just about everyone who has ever lived in this community. Friends of mine who grew up here have fond memories of flood days, school being cancelled, flying foxes across the river with supplies, mudslides and sleep overs at friends places that lasted much longer than expected! Now our children will have their own flood stories to tell.
Floods are much more than just stories. They flush out the rivers and fertilise the alluvial flats sowing the seeds of new life. New and deeper curves are carved out in the riverbanks, swimming holes are deepened and riverbanks are refurbished with marooned tree logs changing the flow. For me, there is something very symbolical about them too. Personally this flood felt like the final epic release of the tension I was still holding onto after a really challenging summer. Now I feel rejuvenated and ready to spiral further inwards towards winter. Floods have also taught me that it’s not only ok, but essential to be unproductive sometimes. They give me permission to just be. To seek shelter, reconnect with my family and myself and recharge my batteries without any agenda. It’s a welcome release from routine for the children too with some of the most imaginative flood day shenanigans borne out of boredom.
Today, after the flood I’m surrounded by clouds and gentle rain. The flood waters are subsiding and everything is back to it’s normal rhythm. Until the next flood when we are again forced to stop and wait for mother nature to finish her rebellion, her reminder to us that despite our best efforts to tame her, she can never truly be controlled.