I’m not ashamed to admit it, I cried buckets when I bade a clinging farewell to my Leecher Creek neighbors Bob and Janie, just a few short weeks ago. For the past twelve years we’ve lived next to one another, a wee country highway between us. Not too far to shout “Wahoo! Good morning!” “Hey keep it down over there.” or “Cookies are out of the oven.”.
To my long and unending list of neighborly needs for a hand (“Can I borrow your power drill?”, “Help me move my cast iron bathtub? Umph”) they never once said “no”. Well, Bob always said “no” and then he’d grin and amble over – his teasing way.
Our friendship surpassed “neighborly” years ago, nurtured by many cups of tea over the kitchen table and conversations that seemed to have limitless boundaries.
True to this summers theme of epic natural disasters in the Methow, an unimaginable flash flood roared down the canyon behind where I lived and through Bob and Janies homestead late last week. In minutes, what would have been a typical summer thunderstorm gratefully drunken in, bounced off the tender, parched, exposed landscape, raindrops merging and building into a roaring mass of mud, picking up speed and debris, uprooting trees and burying everything in it’s path, or sweeping it along with it – all the way out to the ocean.
I’m so thankful my neighbors are alive1 I’m so grateful I moved a few short weeks ago! There is nothing remaining of the cabin or the slightest trace of the peaceful parked out oasis I called home for over a decade. The devastation on my side of the road was swift and complete. I am still coming to terms with such a close call. The wreakage on Bob and Janies side of the road was equally thorough. They will be coming to terms with the destruction to their entire homestead for many long days ahead.
This loving pair, who’s kindness and playfulness has worked its way into their entire communities heart needs that community now, and it is a community that is bone weary from the past two month of relentless natural events, surpassing anything any of us could have wildly imagined; unprecedented wildfires, gale force winds, more wild fires and flash floods.
This loving couple may need help from folks beyond their community.
Walking through the aftermath and taking it all in yesterday I was unreasonably overjoyed to see that my old cast iron bath tub, they eventually traded me for a power drill, was one of a few things in their yard that hadn’t gotten washed down to the Columbia. To think that a bit of something I’d kept around for so long to put in my own future home would soon go into theirs brought a smile through the tears.This is looking to the east side of highway 153. It’s what’s left of what once was my home and yard. My cabin was on the back side of the barn like structure that would have stood in the right side of this image. Said “barn” was actually the oldest gas station in our valley.
My old cabin is now wrapped around the front of Bob and Janie’s shop.
…and her car is parked inside the shop. That long pole would be a casually tossed tree.
This new abyss is yawning between their shop and house. Bob’s truck was swept up and washed to the bottom where this meets the river.
Front door of their house. The yard now rests at window level.
The “many cups of tea” kitchen.
Janie’s daughter Autumn, with her husband Bill dug out several of the farms chickens that were found trapped in the mud the next morning.