The past few weeks, Doug and I have been working on clearing a lane from our barn to the south-facing slope where we plan to establish a vineyard for seedless grapes.  The lane travels from the relatively high ground around the barn and house to the bottom of a small valley and up the other side to the home of our future grapes.

We have been feeling our way through about a dozen rows of spruce slowly, choosing a route that is neither too steep nor convoluted, and studying the individual evergreen planted by the previous owner closely.  As we come to each row of spruce, we look for passage that will save the finest young trees and remove only those that are not thriving.

When we first took stewardship for these spruce, they were gangly little trees about shoulder height.  Now they tower over us and have filled out like football players.

It's kind of like running into your little Cousin Eddie after 10 years, and instead of patting him on the head, you are cranking your head back to smile into his bearded face.

It’s kind of like running into your little Cousin Eddie after 10 years, and instead of patting him on the head, you are cranking your head back to smile into his bearded face.

It’s going to be a lovely lane — direct, yet not ruler straight, where we hope to be passing back and forth on for years to come as we care for the grapes.

But we will never use it at this time of year.Untitled-1

The temperatures are rising, the sun is shining and the snow melt is running down the valley creating an intermittent stream we wondered about when we first saw it marked on the map in late summer.

There was no stream then, nor is there a stream at any time of year but right now, when water courses down the rows of spruce and spreads out into a small, moving lake in its hurry.Untitled-6

I wish more of the snow would melt straight down into the earth and renew our challenged water table, but gravity is not just a good idea – it’s the law.  And water always obeys gravity without question.

I go out multiple times a day to watch and hear the water coursing down our side valley.

It is flowing to the edge of our property, diverting along the ditch or our county road to a massive culvert.  On the other side of the road, at the true bottom of a cross valley, it raises the level of the Smith-Connelly Creek.Untitled-3

Smith-Connelly Creek joins forces with the Pecatonica River, a tributary of the Rock River.

The Rock River Basin covers nearly 3,800 square miles of south Central Wisconsin’s rolling landscape and at this time of year millions of gallons are flowing into the Mississippi at Rock Island.

We all know where the Mississippi goes.

I like standing in the middle of the current in my rubber boots feeling the unstoppable water press past my ankles and wave upon wave agitate last year’s brown, snow-flattened grasses as it muscles its way down stream..  That relentless flow conjures images of the water cycle that we all learned in grade school.water-cycle-map

Say hello to the Gulf of Mexico for me, gurgling gallons.

See you later.


The Mississippi River in spring (photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/quoimedia/5546949848/in/photostream/

In the meantime,  hope your pure melted snow can help to cleanse the terrible mess we have made of that basin.

2 replies

  1. Are you ever likely to slow the stream down to allow it to penetrate the soil better? It is amazing to think where the water will travel too though.

    Our snow is melting slowly but we are fairly saturated after last year anyway and I expect it to all be sodden for a while after the snow has left us.

    • We have plans to make some small dams, just using dirt from the trenches we can dig with shovels to move the flow over a bit. We will put our ideas into practice later this year, and I’ll keep you posted.

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