I awoke this morning to the sound of rain…and to the sight of Tara, one of my upstairs neighbor’s cats, looking wet and disheveled from her perch on my front porch railing. Today was a good day to be a duck–and a bad day to be a cat–since it rained nearly all day. Usually I don’t mind a rainy day; in fact, I’ve spent nearly the whole day grading papers, so I didn’t mind having a good indoor day. But ever since last October’s flood here in southwest New Hampshire, the sound of torrential rain makes me nervous. Last year, for weeks after the flooding that forced the evacuation of my neighborhood, I would peek out my bedroom window whenever I woke to the sound of rain just to make sure I could see pavement rather than water where the street should be. This morning, I instinctively did the same thing, today’s torrential downpours feeling a bit too similar to last year’s.

Although soggy cats want nothing more than to be let in out of the rain, antsy dogs insist on being walked regardless of the weather. Around noon, after a late morning windstorm ripped one of my living room storm-windows right off its bolts, the rain stopped long enough for Reggie and me to take a soggy walk toward Beaver Brook Falls.

The abandoned road that leads toward Beaver Brook Falls is a good rainy-day walk: the route is short and densely canopied so you won’t get too wet, and the road itself is paved so you won’t muddy your feet. But after I got out of the car and started walking, I realized the subconscious reason I’d wanted to walk Reggie along Beaver Brook: I wanted to see for myself whether Beaver Brook was staying within her banks.

Last October, it was humble Beaver Brook that caused all the trouble here in Keene. While the Cold River devastated nearby Alstead, Keene’s own Ashuelot River was relatively well-behaved, rising but not flooding. Had tiny Beaver Brook not breached her banks on the east side of Keene, my neighborhood (and my basement) would have been spared last October’s drama. But last October, we here in Keene learned that a little brook can pack a big, wet wallop if unchecked rains cause her to grow too big for her banks.

So you can imagine my initial alarm when I saw white water where I am accustomed to seeing a slow, steady stream.

Although Beaver Brook wasn’t high enough to breach her banks, she was higher than I’d ever seen her. Springtime brings black flies here in New Hampshire, so I’ve never seen Beaver Brook swollen with spring melt: I avoid walking Reggie in buggy places, so we don’t go to Beaver Brook until summer. In the summer, Beaver Brook is a quiet, gently babbling stream: a waterway so shallow, Reggie can easily wade from one bank to the other. Today, Reggie sniffed at the swollen water but didn’t dare go in, sensing that the depth and current were too much for his dabbling.

On most summer days, you can hear the hum of nearby traffic as you start toward Beaver Brook Falls; it isn’t until you are well within the brook’s sheltering ravine that the sound of water literally drowns out all traces of traffic. Today, though, I could hear the roar of water the moment I got out of my car: the same sound that presumably preceded last year’s torrent.

What I didn’t successfully capture with my pencam, unfortunately, were several snaking waterfalls that cascaded down the rocky walls bordering Beaver Brook: autumn rivulets over summer-dry stones. How surprising it was to see long, trailing waterfalls where in summer only tiny tributaries trickle. Beaver Brook, it seems, hides many a trick up her verdant, ravine-edged sleeve.

And as for me, I prepared for the worst, donning a Gore-tex parka and funky rain-boots for my rainy-day stroll. It started to sprinkle right when Reggie and I reached the falls, so my Worst Case wardrobe came in handy. By the time we’d arrived back home, another round of torrential rains began, the water falling in buckets while I settled in over hot chocolate and more grading. It was a good day to be a duck, a bad day to be a cat, and not a bad day to be a dog-walking blogger with plenty of papers to grade.