February 11, 2017

The River Comes Knocking

My folks have a home  and a acre of property on the bank of the Sacramento River. They've lived there for over 40 years.

Typically, we have to walk out to the gate at the back of the property to see the river because the bank is pretty steep. The river also runs at the foot of their back rather than across the little valley.

Sometimes they have a little beach we can walk down to. There are a couple of large boulders that those in the family that like to fish can cast a line from.

One can catch salmon, steelhead, trout and bass. Swimming is not a good idea because of the rapids and the water temperature. It is usually between 52 and 56 degrees.

Several times over the years, the water could be seen from the house.  Visitors will exclaim, "Hey, I can see the river, cool!"

 Then there has been a time or two when it has crept into the yard. One year it actually rose in the middle of the night right up to the edge of the patio.  Now that was a scary day but it has a funny (now) story to go with it.

Knowing they lived close to the river and the hundred year level is even with their roof line. they had an evacuation plan...just in case!

The morning that my dad looked out their bedroom window and loudly told Mom that the river was lapping at the patio, Mom jumped out of bed, grabbed a suitcase from the closet and threw it on the bed. She rushed to the chest of drawers, pulling a bra out of her drawer, she tossed it into the suitcase. Then she dumped about ten pairs of Dad's socks in, locked up the suitcase and started running down the hall.

No panic there!

They watched their winter supply of firewood float down river. A man and his son canoed through the folks yard that day, too. 

We've had a drought here and haven't seen the far side of the river from the house in years....years!

Thursday morning that sneaky river was creeping under the garden gate. It was about 4" over flood stage. Mom had a bag packed and this time it included more than a single bra and tens pairs of sweatsocks!

Once the day got light, the water had fallen back right to just level with the edge of the bank. Nice to read online that the river has crested but still pretty damn scary to see it lapping at the ivy.

Yesterday, Dad and I walked down to the gate. The water is definitely going down but it is rushing  fast and full of trees, debris and, from what we heard, a tool shed or two!

Pretty handsome for an 88 year old guy, don't you think!!!

The forecast was for at least three days of sunshine and the river to level out about 4 feet from flood level so Mom sent me home (though she is keeping their bag packed).

In spite of the threat of flooding and the unholy amount of rain, I had a really good time hanging out with the folks.  We discovered some old pictures that my children drew for Mom and Dad when the kids were really little. We shredded about 16 years worth of paperwork, rearranged some furniture and laughed and reminisced.


  1. Sounds like time well spent, and I'm glad you got the water without the flooding.

    1. Every minute with my folks is time well spent. They are precious (mostly!)

  2. scary. but there IS water, something CA needs!

    1. We are loving the water! Lakes will be full this year and, most of all, so will our wells!

  3. I remember all too well going through this when i lived in Sacramento. You either have no water or too much. Hope everyone is safe!

    1. Yeah, life in California is an E-ticket ride sometimes; drought, fires, rain, mudslides, fires, earthquakes, fires, floods, fires!

  4. High waters, indeed. I'm glad the level is going down. Sounds like you made good use of the time, though. -Jenn

    1. Just spending time with the Mom and Dad is time well spent. We are very happy about the rain and not afraid of a little water! (making a sign of the cross and crossing my fingers)

  5. it sounds scary to me as in summers when ice over the mountains melt down floods occur often and people living by the rivers be homeless for months.
    your story telling is great specially the way you described the reaction of your mom over the news!
    Happy valentine day friend! your dad is really very handsome man .may he live long healthy life !

  6. Not too scary anymore. We have river level apps on our phones and keep close to them.

    Happy Valentine's Day to you too.


Comment Please but Play Nice!