Hard times in winter                


     I've been living on Rivers (and a few lakes) since I was born, but this is the first time I've lived on a River like this one.  I've been down here in the wetlands, on the largest River in the state of Michigan for 9 years now, and I've learned how to get along when the water comes up, (which is every year.) 

Our house during a winter flood. The river is up about 14 feet.   

     We always stay and see it through, and have had some scares and what not.  The worst time for high water is in the winter, when the possibility of freezing is highest.  If it freezes, I have to cut my way out with an axe, while trying to keep my balance in chest waders in a raging current.  The river is pounding downstream in front and around our place, and  also sweeping in from the wetlands across the road.  One slip into that bone-chilling water is all it would take to do a fiddler in, or anyone else for that matter.  After awhile, the thump of the ice sheets slamming into the house becomes a rhythm for the sound of the swirling water rushing through the posts there, which hold up the front part of our house.


     Why would I live here!?  Why would someone hang-glide, climb a mountain, or any number of other life threatening endeavors?  There's a certain intense sense of both immortality and mortality that comes into play when you walk on the razors edge.  The total awareness of the limits of my body and mind, and the interplay with the objective balance of nature, inspire in me an atmosphere from which I create my music, my art, and my view of the world around me.  Walk in Harmony, walk in Balance, the only Moment that matters is Now.


     We had a pretty bad one in '97, the highest since '84, (which put 2 feet of water into my house,) and a hard snap-freeze to top it off.  It lasted about 3 weeks.  That year, a pregnant woman across the River went into labor and was hydro-foiled out by the National Guard.  Some yayhoos who were sight seeing had to get rescued, by the same Guardsmen, from off the top of their big wheel pickup truck, which they drove into the wetlands. 


     About 4 days later it froze real hard. Back came the Guard with a small boat set up to break ice.  It had a wedge on the front and all the proper ice breaking gadgets. They opened up the road and the Firemen followed in a big Zodiac Army raft.  They stopped in the road in front of each house and one of them with a megaphone hollered, "is any one inside, do you want to be evacuated?"  When they got to our house I hollered back, "I got a full wood-box, milk and water, a guitar and fiddle, and me and my gal are getting along just fine, thank you," 


     That was the flood when our friend, old John Counts, died.  He was 87, and the water was at its highest crest when he let go his earthly bonds, and let his Spirit soar.  I thanked him for what he gave me by writing a song for his passing on to the other side.  It all started 2 weeks after the water went down. We went for a walk, passed his house, and saw a dumpster with all his stuff. 

                                       The view up the street. The neighbors forgot their car and van.

John Counts song