Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Digression to Devils Lake

Four hours ago I finished the last sentence of a lengthy post meant to go in this space.

Three hours and 55 minutes ago I hit the button that said "publish post." But post did not publish. Instead, I saw a screen that said, "This action cannot be executed." Pressing the back-arrow on the browser did not help, bringing up only a blank text box. There was no saved draft, even though this program auto-saves once a minute. As if I had not been typing, linking and pasting photos for many thought-provoking minutes I'll never get back.

Pissed off? Yes.

This mystery deletion has code-error rationale behind it, no doubt. Yet I like to pretend it happened for a reason .... perhaps I spent too much time wrenching together thoughts that weren't natural, concentrating on that rather than remembering to check for a saved draft. The result was most likely what labored composition always is: tortured and sentimental.

So it is fine that it no longer exists, even in the ether...

(Hooray! I like that reason.)

My post was regarding Devils Lake, North Dakota -- the state's largest natural body of water, 30 miles south of my hometown, Cando. More specifically that, as a glacial lake with no natural outlet, it has since 1993 risen more than 26 feet, quadrupled in size, and flooded more than 140 square miles of wheat country and the homes and towns and other manmade objects there-on. And the area had yet another wet spring.

I brought up the subject in this space specifically now because The Atlantic published an article this week from Lisa M. Hamilton titled "Where the Roads End in Water: The Lake That Won't Stop Rising." She interviewed folks in Minnewaukan ... a town currently under siege on 3 sides by Devils Lake:
"The lake itself is not shocking. In fact, to eyes like mine, seeing it for the first time, it looks unremarkable, benign even—flat, blue, shallow around the edges. What's unnerving are the signs that the land beneath was dry not long ago. Every few miles along the highway, a cross-street leads straight into the blue, the yellow center lines almost beckoning drivers to follow and submerge. In the town of Minnewaukan, just past D Avenue, Main Street itself disappears into the water ... "
"...Rows of grain bins beginning to rust as the flat water seeps through their concrete floors. Houses on high spots stranded, abandoned, for the lake that surrounds them. Where wheat fields once were, now there are waves. And the roads—one after another leading into the water, disappearing under the silver surface. No matter how many I see, each one gives me a chill."
I've seen these roads too. Driven most of them too. I drove the one below an awful lot. (In fact, I think I got my first speeding ticket on what's underwater ... junior in high school, my grandma's Chevy Beretta, my father in the passenger seat.)

So I got the same chills Lisa speaks of, because roads are not made to end in lakes.

Junction of Highways 281 and 19 north of Minnewaukan.
(Photo credit: bbend from Weather Underground)

I also thought you'd enjoy an article about my home.


Anonymous said...

@Karin. Enjoyed immensely. Thank you.


Jen said...

That's so interesting. I have never heard of anything like that.

cousin j said...

i drove those roads so often to and fro growing up. especially, the potato summers. old bonneville, tape deck cranked, floating over the highway (dry) and now one would have to float. so odd to witness it.