The most recent deluge and its run-off have charged the Susquehanna River and the fearsome weight of the water is muscling its way to the Chesapeake Bay. Flood stage is 23.5 feet in these parts. This morning, the river reached 27.7 feet and it is expected to crest at something over 28 feet. Conowingo Dam has 53 gates and more than twenty of them are open; creamy spume explodes upward above the clay-brown waves that surge southwards.
The shoreline below the dam is lined with people taking pictures, walking dogs, marveling at the barely contained violence of the river. A bald eagle cruises overhead, pinions straight and primaries outstretched like fingers, head more silver than white and snowy tailfeathers fanned wide. For a few minutes the March sun warms the sky to blue; a rainbow glimmers in the mist that veils the Cecil County shoreline. Pigeons abandon safe perches on the dam’s piers to spiral and dive, arcing through the damp and color in arcane choreography like neighborhood children dancing through sprinklers to wash away the August heat.
We did not stay very long. The rainbow dissolved to gray and we walked back to the car. The road home slipped through hills and by pastures home to horses and some cattle. We had a new recipe to try, Portobello mushrooms soaked in pungent marinade and grilled with slabs of sweet onion, served on crusty bread with roasted poblano peppers, slices of gruyere cheese, ripe avocado.
The mild afternoon quickly turned to chilly evening. In the woods below a pileated woodpecker settled on a tree trunk already sheared clean of bark and pocked with holes, kuk-kuk-kukukuking gleefully. Four deer looked up at us meaningfully, expecting the apples and dried cob corn that they know my Dear One provides. In the dark, the passionate chorus of the spring peepers is all I can hear.