Water and Space can be as frightening as they are thrilling, exciting and stimulating.
Des Plaines River in Illinois is a kind of sleepy river I had been seeing year after year. A quiet-walk or a cycle ride along the concreted pavement on the sides of the river always had a mood enhancing effect on me.
Continuous showers welcomed me as I landed in Chicago on 16th April 2013. It looked as though I brought spring to Chicago. I was stuck at home for two days due to the inclement weather outside and I couldn’t have my usual walk through a number of shadowy boulevards and avenues.
In the evening when the rains stopped briefly I looked outside standing on the patio of our fifth floor apartment that stood on the banks of Des Plaines River. To my consternation, I saw most of the cars that were parked in the basement garages in several buildings were out in the open as water from the nearby river had surrounded and inundated the entire area. I couldn’t hold my curiosity anymore. I put on a sweat shirt and quickly ran out of our apartment to the road.
Like me several others too seemed to be on the road to look at the havoc and take pictures. The concreted sidewalk along the river had disappeared. The stairs from the bridge to the sidewalk and the tunneled passage underneath the railway line were under 8 feet deep water. A bystander whose car was parked on the other side looked on helplessly. The South River Road across the railway line was in knee deep water and at some places I couldn’t distinguish between the river bank and the road. At a distance, I saw someone wading through waters in a small float. A nearby apartment complex for retired people had been vacated, I was told. Many roads were closed and traffic diverted. At one extreme corner I saw water being pumped out into the river.
What was to be appreciated was the people’s attitude towards such natural calamities. They went about their job staying calm without getting panicked. The cops and rescue vehicles were rendering excellent service by helping out everyone. Curious onlookers quietly enjoyed the nature’s play though it was devastating.
A week before, I and my daughter went out in the early morning hours to capture Squaw peak Mountain in Arizona on our foot. This small mountain trek was 1.2 miles long. The near 1500 feet elevation was steep, rough and rugged. On an earlier attempt I had withdrawn half way not feeling very confident of completing my trek. But this time, I took it easy by taking a one-minute break every now and then, but trekked successfully to the top which was just a small plateau with several sharp protruding edges. The last stretch was really testing my knee, but I made it. I felt like a small child shouting, ‘I made it.’ I felt like experiencing the top of the world. The view was exhilarating. The whole city was before me I looked at the sky into its space for a minute and its vastness frightened me.