Thursday, April 21, 2011

The River is High Again

The river is high again
rushing north.  Rained hard at night and then for a few days.

A geographical anomaly.
Remnant of the last ice age.

Fossils are part of the local architecture.

The ancient lake wants to reach equilibrium
and I heard an old man talk about his achievements
which are visible every time the rivers rise.

He was modest,
priggish, said an announcer from the 1960s.
But our social structures have a lot to do with things he brought into being,
including the big gates that divert the Red from terrorizing the city we built
at the confluence of two prairie rivers.

They are the bottom of an ancient lake bed
and all water moves through those channels.  The ancient clay bottom doesn't soak up much. The water moves along.

Our wheelbarrow was full of water in the morning.
I rode my bike over the rushing Red. Suspended on a bridge, spanning the flood.

I wrote the poem last year, a bit amazed at how much water was pouring through the Red after the dry lake bottoms we saw in Australia. I heard a radio item about Duff Roblin, the former Premier who orchestrated the building of the floodway, apparently the largest earth moving project in the world (have to check out that fact, for sure).  Duff Robin was quite unassuming, but he got things done, and his ideas still resonate in Manitoba today. 

The word this year is that more water, by volume, will pass through the Assiniboine and Red Rivers than in any of the biggest floods recorded in this century. The amount of water going through the Red near our house is incredible; small towns are almost inundated this year with unusual flooding patterns.  I can't help but thinking that ancient Lake Agassiz is still hovering there, somewhere behind the horizon.  We traced the geological ages at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller a few weeks ago ... the water ebbs and flows, but it's always there.

Here's a link to some great shots in the Winnipeg Free Press.

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