It’s strange how experiences from our childhood come back to visit later in life. Sometimes that can have an unfavorable effect, other times it may prove quite beneficial. After all, experience is the best teacher - so it’s said.
Thirty-some years ago, I lived out of town, beside a small creek. There usually wasn’t much water flowing in the creek, except during the spring run-off of melted mountain snow. Normally, that only lasted only a month or so and by the end of the summer, the water had dried up.
One summer, late in the year, I got the bright idea to reroute the creek. To change the course of the creek, even for a little ways, would be quite an accomplishment. I was under know delusion that such a chore would be easy, but I did underestimate the amount of work that would be required in my grand attempt to divert the water.
Steep banks lined the creek bed in most places but there was one spot where things flattened out for fifty or sixty feet. I decided that would be the place to create my water diversion and I spent several days moving rocks, dirt, and logs into position. In short, I shoveled dirt and rocks from one side of the creek bank and made a dam by piling it all on a couple of logs I had dragged down the hill. This also created a fairly low spot where I’d removed the dirt and rocks.
Next, I dug a small trench for a few yards downstream. With no water in the creek, it was pretty simple to design a new bed but nearly impossible to predict if my plan would actually work once the water had returned. Then came Fall and the rains started. The dried-up creek started flowing again. I was both surprised and pleased to see the creek now followed the shallow trench I had dug. In the days that followed, as more water came rushing through, the creek started cutting its own channel, extending my trench. Eventually, the water made it back to the original path of the creek - some thirty or more feet downstream. For a few days I was happy with my project; I’d done what I’d set out to do. But being a ten-year-old kid, I soon forgot about it - until Spring.
As the snow began to melt in the higher elevations, the creek started to rise. A lot. One morning, I walked out to find the creek was out of its banks. It had flooded and there was water everywhere! My first thought was, “Oh no! I’m in trouble!” I believed I’d caused the flood.
For a few minutes, I stood staring at the water, wondering how on Earth I was going to get out of this. But then I realized that the excess of water had nothing to do with me or my little experiment. Instead of worrying about being in trouble, I started wondering which direction the creek would take once the water had gone down. Would it revert back to where it had been originally or follow the new path I had designed?
It was almost two weeks before I learned the answer. When the water had receded, I was elated to see that my dam had held! Even better was that the water had widened and deepened my trench. I had done it! I’d successfully changed the course of the creek - permanently!
Not long ago, I saw a listing for a job in the area. It seems a private landowner wanted someone to manage their waterways; to be in charge of diverting water to better facilitate the irrigation of their crops. I halfway considered applying. After all, I do have experience!