Clare County Review & Marion Press Columns

Pat’s Bits and Pieces – Marvelous muddy March in Mid-Michigan

The Old Farmer’s Almanac says March is the most changeable month.

I tend to agree with that, especially in this part of Michigan, where in just the past week we have had sunny springlike weather sprinkled with snow flurries. In fact today, I woke up to a blanket of white – again.

Depending on which weather app on my phone I look at, today (Monday) will have a high of 46, or a high in the 30s.

It’s Irish Festival week, so of course Saturday’s high is only predicted to be around 30 degrees for the Irish Parade and outdoor events, although St. Paddy’s Day (Friday) is supposed to be in the high 40s. Wouldn’t it be nice if Mother Nature was good to us and gave us a nice warm, sunny weekend for a change. We had one of those – once. No matter what the weather is, I think this will be a great Irish Festival, with loads on fun and green beer “on tap.”

After the festival winds down, according to my calendar, next Monday is supposed to be the first day of spring…?

It is so entertaining, living here in mid-Michigan. Spring must be coming soon though because the Gold Finches are turning gold again and they have been hitting the feeder outside our living room window like there is no tomorrow.

Of course, they might just be filling up before the next snowstorm hits…

We have been in the Clare area since 1983, and spent 35 of those years living on the banks of the Tobacco River. I really miss our five acres there – most of the time. But not this time of year when the snow is melting and the rains can be heavy.

When the Tobacco flooded that river could be a scary thing.

Over the years we lived there we watched the water rise and fall several times. In September of 1986 for a day and a half, we actually lived “in” the river, not on it. Of course we moved out for a couple of days. It made us wonder if living out there was “worth it.”

When the Tobacco floods, it is like a muddy brown raging animal, and the only thing you can do is watch it come, and if it gets too close, get out of its way. We did just that back then, moved everything “up” and ourselves out, and the next day came back to clean up the mess left behind.

Since those days we were pretty lucky I guess, and although that river flooded nearly every year at some point, it usually just filled up mostly the back and side yards.

In 2004, it gave us a little scare. It got higher than it had any time since that major 1986 flood, pretty close to the house in fact, and I have to admit Jack and I were both pretty nervous before the water started going down again.

In fact, anytime it rained hard, we remembered 1986 and would watch the river pretty closely.

When the river behaved, you didn’t even remember those times staying up most of the night to watch how high the water was rising and getting ready to “evacuate” until the water went down again.

When it flooded it was scary, but still pretty entertaining. I remember watching a huge carp swim right through the center of the back yard one time.  In 2011, we watched an empty canoe make its way downstream. We never did find out where that came from.

Living out here in “farm country” for two years now, we don’t have to worry about the river anymore, but in spite of the “scares” we had every year or two, I still miss it. It was a beautiful place to live during the rest of the year. Even in winter, the river could look like a fairy tale scene.

Our biggest concern these days is getting to the car without sinking in the mud. What a sloppy mess our driveway is! I really miss our paved driveway this time of year. Although the plus about our location is that our 16’ by 68’ is a pretty nice place for spectacular sunrises and sunsets and with six windows on three sides of our living room, we always have a great view.

And, in the summer, I have window boxes on all of those windows, filled with blooms that never die and never need watering.

With a bit of luck and by saving our pennies, maybe by next year, we will have a concrete patio with a roof overhead, the first step to a porch with a view, which we both want, since we enjoy those sunny days so much.

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