Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Flood Chasers

Flood Chasers


flood 6

Well, we went out to make our usual five mile long solar system model when something unexpected happened- our route was blocked by floodwater.



 Fynn hopped up on the bike and we forded one flood after another as they got deeper and deeper, with the water eventually rising above the bicycle's hubs. By this time we had mustered up a healthy fear of flooding. We came to the area pictured in the photo above (flood 6) and got really scared. I kept reassuring him that we were not going to ride through that, but we did have to turn around and ride back. He was on the verge of panic and clutched me tightly as we rode back to dry land, fording the flooded areas, which he named flood 1,2,3,4,5, and 6. He was now completely terrified of floods, and also totally obsessed with them. It should not surprise me, it's what Fynn does, he becomes obsessed with anything that scares him. He talks about it, learns about it, makes models of it. And somehow this helps him get over his fears, and, next to laughter, it's one of his best motives for learning.



As we rode home, we talked about flooding. He told me he was sorry for fussing, that he just got scared he was gonna get washed away. He asked me why the bike trail flooded, and we talked about rivers, and flood plains. We talked about erosion, and saw areas where the trail or riverbank had collapsed. We talked about storms, and what happens to the animals that live in these flooded areas. I told him what it was like growing up in east Texas and living through hurricanes and floods, and how one time, after a big flood, i had seen a house stuck way up in a tree. He loved that story.



As soon as we got home he got on his computer and looked up floods. He spent the next couple of hours looking at pictures and videos of them. Then he filled our pool with dirt and water to make his own flood. Later on he came up to me and said "Ok Papa, we're flood chasers, so can we go look for some more floods?" I said sure, so we gathered up Rowan and we headed off to another section of river known for flooding. Fynn was careful not to let Rowan get too close to the water, as he is the kind of kid who will dive right in. It was nice having an extra person to watch out for him. We told everyone we saw we were flood chasers. Some of them looked at us as though we'd said the moon was a great piece of cheese and we were going to eat it. But we were in awe of the power of water, we didn't care what they thought. We watched massive pieces of driftwood floating down the river, saw dams made of all kinds of debris. Stood on a bridge watching the water rush below us. Fynn said it looked like we were on a boat. "How fast are we going" he asked. Perhaps wisely, neither of the kids would even stick a toe in the water.





A couple of days later we went back to the first flood that had so captured Fynn's imagination. We had to pass a sign warning of the flooded trail, and Fynn made me read it to him over and over, then had me take his and Rowan's picture standing by it. By this time the water had gone down quite a bit. Floods 1-5 were not there anymore, only flood 6, the big scary one. But now we were on foot, and it was crossable. I stepped into the water to show the kids that it wasn't too deep and Fynn started to panic again. I told him it was safe, and walked out to the middle and then back to show him. Then Rowan wanted to walk through it too, so I convinced Fynn to climb on my back and together the three of us walked through the flood safely to the other side.



 On the way back Fynn let me put him down in the middle and he walked through the water by himself. He was so proud of himself for doing something he was scared of. He stopped every person we saw on the trail and told them that he had walked through the flood and asked them if they were going to walk through the flood too. He was hopping up and down and flapping his arms and could barely speak through his excitement. We caught a toad and let it go. Fynn loved the idea of toads being born as tadpoles in the water. When we got home he was so excited about walking through the flood that he did something that we thought he might never do. I'm going to respect his privacy on this one but let me just say that it is a big deal. This led to other smaller breakthroughs for him, like flushing the toilet, which used to scare him, and blowing his nose, which also scared him. It's amazing to watch how conquering one fear flooded him with the courage to face his other fears. It is said that bravery is not the lack of fear but rather the ability to face your fears head on. If this is so Fynn is the bravest person I know. 



The next day Beth, Fynn, and Rowan got out their science bucket and made a model town to flood. The power of nature had instilled fear and awe, as it should. We learned about geology, meteorology, earth science, physics and density, climatology and topography, maths relating to speed and distance. We read all the flood warning signs and learned some new words. We covered history, talking about past floods both here where we live and in the area i grew up in. It was a flood of knowledge. 




As the waters receded we were left with places at once both familiar and strange. Old, yet new. We are flood chasers. We chased this flood, and it changed us. It told us a story, offered insight, into ourselves, and the ways of nature. We are like the land, the same, yet different. Old things have been washed away, new ones washed in. Old places to explore, new things to discover. So go, find your passions, and your fears, be brave, and chase them. You may be surprised at what you discover.








Flood!