“How high is the water, mama?”

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“How high is the water, mama?” – do you remember that old song by Johnny Cash? Johnny was singing about the mighty, muddy Mississippi, but around central and lower Hastings County these days we’re asking that same question about the Moira River and some other watersheds – including, in recent days, the Black River that runs through Queensborough.

Thanks to the CBC and so on taking an interest, a lot of you have probably heard about the flooding problems in the Foxboro area, just north of Belleville. But in the last couple of days we up north in Queensborough have started to wonder if roads, fields and properties here are entirely safe from a river swelled by spring runoff and lots and lots of rain. The river is as high as it has probably been in most people’s lifetime.

When I did my twice-daily check of it late this afternoon, I am pretty sure that the water was a little lower than it was yesterday. For sure it wasn’t any higher. So with any luck the river won’t make its way any farther outside its banks than it already has. But let me tell you, this time yesterday it was quite something to see, as perhaps you can tell from the gallery atop this post. Man, I couldn’t believe how close the water level was to the bottom of the Queensborough bridge. Here’s a little video I shot:

Anyway, I think it is very likely that we will all survive this high water. But meanwhile, I found a real treasure of a video when I looked up that Johnny Cash song. Here’s Johnny being asked about it on black-and-white TV by none other than the recently departed (and much-lamented) Pete Seeger. Johnny appears to be wired, and was very probably in his wild substance-abusing years. June Carter (possibly not yet June Carter Cash) looks on, silent and tight-lipped, as Johnny tells the story – and eventually gets to what I think we can all agree is a great song. Sing it for us all tonight, Johnny:

8 thoughts on ““How high is the water, mama?”

  1. Well, the water in Belleville has necessitated the closing of part of the Riverside Trail. In Tweed, the park is flooded and the water is almost up to the Park Place Motel. Here is the Intelligencer article, which contains a photo slideshow. Photos 6 and 7 in Belleville look to be at Pinnacle and Front Streets. As bad as this is, it is nothing to what happened decades ago when the old wooden pedestrian footbridge (downtown Belleville) was ripped apart because the water was as high as the bridge.




  2. Now that’s some powerful water there — and a darn good excuse for some Johnny Cash (as if an excuse were ever needed).

    When I was in kindergarten, we lived on a 100-acre farm near Inkerman, Ont., that flooded every spring. Our house was on a little hill, so we had a choice to make as soon as the river started rising: Stay in or get out. There was the time we chose “get out” and came home with a pet pig, Wilbur. But anyway.

  3. Three feet high and risin’, Mama! If you remember the sunny spot where you and Raymond joined our family at Pitts’ landing, think lake. The two cottages in that area along the shore have 1-2″ water inside and the area where we sat is only accessible with waders. Highest level that Gayle remembers and that goes back a while.

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