I could hear the ominous roar of the water long before I could see it— powerful and menacing—a stark contrast to the exquisitely blue sky and sunny Saturday afternoon in late February. I was foregoing a workout at the gym to enjoy a favorite walk along the country roads near our home, iPhone camera in one hand and binoculars in the other. The temperature had risen into the sixties, but the shadows cast by the white pines along the driveway were cool enough for snow to still remain, a testament to the serious snowstorm little more than a week before. The grass still bore its winter brown color, but as I passed the grove of forsythia in front of the barn, I could see the distinct swelling of buds, a harbinger of what is usually the earliest floral display here in Virginia’s northern Shenandoah Valley (See photos below).
As I walked up and beyond our drive, I reached the crest of the ridge overlooking the river, the low-water bridge far below. As though someone had removed a curtain, the roar got louder, and I caught a glimpse of its source: the river swollen from yesterday’s heavy rain and fast snowmelt. The current was swift, lapping high up the banks, and rushing over the low water bridge. The only indication of the bridge below was a swollen and undulating strip of water across the river and uncharacteristic turbulence on the downstream side. I walked down as far as I could safely go to the edge of the water and gazed across at the road emerging on the other side (See video below). There would be no walking or driving across any time soon, and after a respectful contemplation of Nature’s power, I turned around. I was forced to choose a different route for my usual walk, but it turned out to be a lovely change, and I enjoyed chatting with some neighbors who were also out enjoying the warm afternoon.
The flooded bridge seemed an apt metaphor for the turbulence and roadblocks of life that so often interrupt our plans and force us to change direction. These can, at times, be more than just inconvenient. They can be disturbing, upsetting, and paralyzing. The next time I encounter this, I hope I’ll remember this afternoon and remind myself that regardless of the challenges, I always have a choice about how I will handle the unexpected disturbance. Who knows what opportunities might lie ahead because I couldn’t do what I had planned?
LEFT below: Buds swelling on a branch of forsythia; RIGHT below: Snow in the shadows of our pine trees
Video: Flooded low water bridge
These photos and video were taken with an iPhone 5s, an amazing piece of technology: