Community in mud and flood

footprints in a mud puddle

A walk in the mud.

A few weeks ago I began a blog post entitled “Veering toward the mud.” It was a whimsical piece about a mother with two toddler children I passed on my walk home from the bus stop. All three played with joyful abandon in a deep puddle. Her refreshing lack of concern about how dirty and wet the children became with each passing moment struck me as so rare in these times of overprotective, germ-fearing parenting. I imagined her returning home after to wring out wet socks and turn up their rubber boots to let the water run out. I thought about how, as adults, we veer away from puddles but every child veers toward the mud. At what point, I wondered, do we lose that childlike enjoyment of getting wet and dirty?

I didn’t finish the piece because busy life intervened. I thought, “I’ll get back to it. I hope I manage to do that before our spring mud clears up.”

I needn’t have worried, because then came the flood.

All nature’s forces combined to create flood conditions in the Ottawa River valley and surrounding area that haven’t been seen in the living memories of inhabitants. People didn’t need to veer toward mud and water in the Ottawa-Gatineau area; it veered right into their living rooms.

I took the picture below on Saturday at a local park. This area is usually grass and park benches. The bird in the distance that looks like it’s sitting on a log? That bird is perched on the back of a park bench.

This is a picture of the same area on Sunday. The park bench where the bird sat is now submerged.

park submerged in water

How could I write about playing in water when people a few kilometres from me had to wade through waist-deep water to get to their homes, if they could get to them at all?

There is no joy in that. There is no joy in this mud-ville.

The only solace to be found comes in the goodwill of people. Neighbours who might have only nodded in passing before are now bonding as they work together to fight back the tide. Countless volunteers are spending hours hoisting sandbags for people they don’t even know. The Red Crossas always, first on the scene to give comfort, compassion and the bare necessities for survival—a ledge for people to cling to by their fingernails in their time of crisis.

The only solace comes from community, in mud and flood.

 

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About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on May 9, 2017, in Arlene Smith, Arlene Somerton Smith, Inspiration, nature, outreach and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Whoa! A serious siege of water you have! History-making water: “the flood of ’17!” Interesting, though, how times of crisis pull us together in our humanity, increasing our sense of family. More and more now, I see signs that joyous celebrations are also bonding us deeply. A small puddle party of three is a wonderful place to start celebrating. It drew you in, didn’t it? And now you have included us. Thank you and most blessed wishes to your community, as you address the mess — together.

  2. It is true that people come together as community during disasters. We need to change that so our communities are closer knitted at all times.

  3. But still- I like your original message. My nickname as a child was “Puddles.” You can guess why. I’d like to learn how to jump in them again.

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