Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lifting Spirits


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

45° this morning. Last night's red sky has offered up a clear, cool morning and yesterday's breeze took away some of the sogginess that came with each step as Irene left us with almost 7" of rain here on the mountain. This morning's walk with Karl the Wonder Dog was uneventful but the sound of the water going over the dam at Peacham Pond and down the river to Marshfield Reservoir is thunderous and freight train-like. There's a sense of contradiction there as no trains are running in Vermont because over three hundred miles of track have somehow been compromised. The media has offered full coverage on what has become a disaster of bigger dimension than the floods of 1927. Gail's mom once told us of standing by the Winooski River in Chittenden County and watching cows float by but this year river watchers saw cars and houses and trailers and covered bridges.

All make of farmers have been devastated by the recent floods. The summer began in late May with some very serious flooding but Irene included every farmer in Vermont on her recent visit. Yes, there are some who fared better than others but everyone experienced damage, some so difficult that thoughts of career change or retirement prevail. It seemed to me as if I had just barely begun to catch up on the destruction of May 26th when Irene hit. Yesterday when it was over Gail and I went down to the nursery as soon as we confirmed that Route 2 had been reopened. It was a repeat of May only worse. I took a bunch of pictures and oddly as I scanned the SD Card later, no pictures were saved. Maybe that was good as we've seen enough for this year. Gail went back to the nursery later in the day to work but I needed a break from disaster and headed into the woods to cut woood and work on some new trails I am building. By the end of the day news reports and emails from other farmers gave all too adequate notice that we had done very well compared to farmers who had lost everything.

For us it is rebuild time and we will continue on. I am trying to connect with the correct agency to get some help with river bank management. Vermont is an interesting state and there is a group that is adament that planting trees and shrubs maintains the river in times like this but it just isn't so. Spring run off is consistently more of a problem than ever before and the rivers in some places have filled with silt and rock and the river beds have risen. At our place the Winooski River makes two right hand turns in a hundred yards and that prevents the massive water flow, pushing it instead onto our land. A new course is growing and if I cannot get some help changing the flow, much of our land and a couple acres of flowers will be lost. Sunday night Green Moutnain Power began plans for an emergency release of water from the Marshfield Reservoir. They think as a company they did a good job managing this emergency but they failed miserably in communication and management skills. Had the dam failed, Central Vermont on to Winooski and Burlington would be a different place today.

As the sun gets higher this morning, Gail is already packing for her daily trip to the nursery. I have banking to do this morning and need a few small engine repair parts while I am in Barre. Other farmers are going about their chores. Some are missing animals, equipment, land, or buildings. Some are very discouraged, most are working right now as you read this. No matter what you do today, stop for a minute and reflect on where your food supply comes from and what it takes to get food to your table. Give credit to farmers. Stop and say hello to neighboring farmers, CSAs, and offer encouragement. Encouraging smiles go a long way!


Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the honey bees are flying well this morning to the background sound of ravens discussing breakfast above the compost pile and a pileated woodpecker working up breakfast on the maple outside my office window. Life goes on! Be happy!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
We will always help you grow your green thumb!

1 comment:

Matt and Kathy said...

George and Gail, we have enjoyed visiting the Vermont Flower Farm for the past several years and wish you and all of the Vermont farmers who have been hurt by the floods the best. Vermont is a beautiful place to visit with it's rolling hills and fields, but it is the people of Vermont that make it unique.