Make the most of life’s sinkholes

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Last Tuesday I went out to take photos of some of the flooding on the north side of town. I pulled off on the shoulder of Iowa Highway 14 to get some photos of the water that pooled around the Marshalltown welcome sign — you might have seen it in the paper. After taking that shot, I wanted to capture how high the Iowa River was.

I tried to figure out the best way to safely get a photo that showed how close the river was getting to the bridge. When Marshalltown floods, the Highway 14 bridge over the river is usually one of the first roadways to be impacted.

I decided it probably wasn’t the best idea to walk on the highway to the bridge, so I opted to park at Riverside Park and walk up the hill that banks the river.

As I was walking to the hill, I had to cross a ditch with a little bit of water in it. I stepped into what I thought was a puddle only to quickly realize there wasn’t solid ground underneath. As one leg sank in, the other leg lurched forward in an attempt to regain my balance. Before I knew it, my legs had sunk in and I was surrounded by mud and water nearly to my waist.

I flailed around trying to escape until I finally got back onto the stable ground. There was no one around to witness it — who I saw anyway — but I imagine it would have been quite a scene to watch.

After what seemed like a long moment of taking in what happened, I patted my pockets. My keys were still there but my phone was gone.

I looked at the hole I’d just come out of and the mud was already bubbling as it was settling into place. I didn’t see my phone anywhere. I even retraced my steps just in case I dropped it before getting into the ditch.

I imagine it’s still at the bottom of that sinkhole.

Luckily the camera wasn’t ruined. I could have lost my keys in addition to my phone, but I didn’t. And I obviously wasn’t hurt — although who expects to get hurt from a puddle? I ended up getting a new phone that night since I felt like finding it was a lost cause.

If you know me, you know these mishaps are normal. I got stung by a bee on my lip on my very first field trip to Appleberry Farm in preschool and I’ve been the target of bird defecation 12 times in my life. That has to be a world record, right? Anyway, the point is these bizarre things happen to me.

I’m sure all of us have some crazy stories. That’s how I choose to look at those situations — as crazy stories rather than bad luck. That perspective makes life a little bit easier.

One of the things people keep saying to me is that I’ve had “baptism by fire” with the tornado occurring on my 10th day on the job here. And it’s true, but at the same time, I got to truly see just how important the work we do is all the time, but especially when our community needed information.

It’s a privilege to tell the stories of my community, even if that sometimes means falling into a sinkhole.


‘The future is bright’ is a bi-monthly column from

T-R News Editor Emily Barske focusing on young people,

innovation and civil discourse.

Have a suggested topic or feedback?

Contact her at ebarske@timesrepublican.com


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