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Photographing a Flash Flood

A long time ago I saw my first flash flood, after years of being in the Southwest. It was pretty scrawny -- but still impressive if you think of what it represents.

Recently it happened again, except that it was even tinier. The onset of running water was only a quarter inch deep. But it was fascinating! I walked it downstream, at a rate of maybe one mile per hour.

I tried to play games with it. Could it be photographed? I looked at it from above: boring. Then I tried to get light to glance off of it: no good. Perhaps if the camera was lowered almost to the ground, and it focussed on the oncoming 'wave front', it might have looked a little bit impressive. But any still photograph would have missed the drama.

Where are the photographers when you need them?!

I played the game of guessing which way its downstream-most finger would extend. It proved impossible. That finger seemed like a sentient creature, probing, invading, and choosing its next victim.

There is such great use of this slow-moving Malevolence as a metaphor.  The inability to guess the future direction of such a simple thing makes you humble about investing in financial markets or extrapolating historical trends in a society.

( 4 extra credit points go to any commenter who identifies the perfect short book by Tolstoy to look for a metaphor that matches this post.)


XXXXX said…
Nice. The Ancients knew you couldn't beat nature and believed wisdom required one to live in accordance with nature. So the study of nature, its patterns, was important to them in exactly the way you have described. We have forgotten that along the way as the current belief is that we are above nature, that we are the masters. We might seem successful at first glance but that is only because nature, for the moment, is indifferent to us.
I very much like such observations as you have made here. It's good to remind ourselves of these things.
I don't know, George, you might have some Rousseau-ianism hiding under the bushes in this comment (grin)

We're not above nature? What about a dam that blocks the river that would otherwise have a flash flood?
XXXXX said…
All you need is one big earthquake and the dam is gone.