Childhood walks after the spring floods

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 16, 2019

Are you ready for the spring floods?

Floods are always something you can count on when you live in Lawrence County. I actually loved the rains as a little girl. I remember us kids making a huge bed on the floor of the porch of our house and feeling the warmth of the quilts over us as the mist from the storm came in waves over our faces.

Mom would read stories to us and, every now and then, we’d let out a loud whoop when lighting and thunder surrounded us.

I have vivid memories of walking with Granny to the edge of Aaron’s Creek after a big storm. She’d grab a tobacco stick for steadiness as we walked across the small bit of bottom land in front of her little house.

I have to admit, I took the walk for myself as much as for Granny. There was a thrill in watching the reddish, muddy waters’ rushing current. We’d stand silent for a while before Granny would begin to estimate how much more rain we would need before the creek would overflow into the field. She’d imagine out loud how the flooding was affecting those farther down the creek whose homes were on lower ground.

Once, my sisters Amy, Linda and I were home alone. We lived in an old log house up a hollow about a mile and a half from Granny’s house. The rains started coming long and hard and we began to fear we would be stuck up the hollow by ourselves if the creek got too high. So when the rain died down a bit, we ventured to walk to Granny’s house. This was a risky business, because the small branch that ran across the dirt road in the hollow had gotten deep and angry.

We climbed the steep bank of the hill about 10 feet up and held on to the sapling trees as we balanced each step to walk around the hill, rather than risk crossing the branch. It seemed like ages before we reached the paved county road of Aaron’s Creek. The rest of our journey should have been easy, except we noticed we weren’t the only ones trying to seek higher ground.

Directly on the other side of the road from us was a mama skunk and three babies. It was evident they were headed in the same direction as us. Now I’m not one to mess with skunks and I could tell by the way Mama Skunk eyed us that she didn’t really want to mess with three little girls. So, for about a half mile Amy, Linda and I walked single file on the far left of the road and the skunk family walked single file on the right side of the road.

We stayed very quiet and every now and then we’d look toward Mama Skunk, trying hard not to make eye contact, and she did the same to us. Finally, she found a spot where her little family could cross the ditch and make it safely up the side of the hill.

Like so many of our tight spots growing up, once the storm was behind us, we counted it as a daring adventure. We proudly shared our story with Granny and Grandpa and gave them a good laugh.

I have many more stories of spring floods but not enough space here to share now. Watch for next week’s new flood story.

Nora Swango Stanger, a Lawrence County native and Appalachian outreach coordinator for Sinclair Community College, can be reached at norastanger@gmail.com.