Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Swale and Flow, Needle and Thread, Sky and Sun

Looking up at Stacy Levy's "Swale" from the bike path, Thomas Road bridge at Indian Bend Wash

I love that this definition of "swale" from the lakesuperiorstreams.org storm water Management resources site fits this whole scene perfectly and thoroughly. This description is the Indian Bend Wash, if you are permitted to make your swales about a quarter mile across:

A grassed swale is a graded and engineered landscape feature appearing as a linear, shallow, open channel with trapezoidal or parabolic shape. The swale is vegetated with flood tolerant, erosion resistant plants. The design of grassed swales promotes the conveyance of storm water at a slower, controlled rate and acts as a filter medium removing pollutants and allowing stormwater infiltration. When properly designed to accommodate a predetermined storm event volume, a grassed swale results in a significant improvement over the traditional drainage ditch in both slowing and cleaning of water.

Up top of our long swale is some new art. It's colorful, swaying forms are topped here and there with seedpod-like shapes.

From the road. Pickup driver be all like, "What the hell, 14 foot tall weeds growin up here!"

I've previously posted some photos of the aftermath of floods in this swale: plants and debris washed all over, mud in the tunnels, paths washed out, small trees bent over like there's still current running after the current is no longer running. Much better that these waters run through this controlled channel in the intended manner than elsewhere freely and with more damaging and unpredictable effects. "Flood tolerant, erosion resistant plants," the definition states. I think these 14 foot tall steel beauties qualify.

Needle and thread in use

During the latest rains which washed waters through here, the ones that made the ducks laugh and brought the dense fog of the previous post, I discovered that my standby commuting rain jacket had a hole neatly torn along the seam under the armpit. I considered leaving the hole, since this jacket also has pitzips that I generally leaved unzipped for ventilation, so more air should be a good thing, but the rip seemed in danger of continuing its ripping course along the seam, so I put a stop to it, and closed it up. 

This particular material seemed to be strong and work well with a needle and thread, unlike some earlier, more fragile stuff of previous rain jackets. I considered brushing on some Nikwax sealant after sewing, but yeah again with the pitzips open water is going to get in there anyway, so I didn't do that. Now my standby commuting rain jacket is ready to be stashed back in the bag and left there for six more months until I happen to get caught in another rare commute-time rain shower.

The other reason I sewed up the jacket was the "Swale" art. I rode over there after the weather had returned to the normal sunny and warm, and my inclination was to just forget about the tear in the the underarm. Then I looked up and saw these steel needles sewing up the sky, drinking up sunshine and photosynthesizing it into metal sugar with enamel chlorophyll, and I felt the urge to sew. 


  1. There sure seems to be a lot of public art in your part of Phoenix. I like it. Looking at the two views of this one, I think the bicyclists get the much better perspective. Looking up at the waving forms there is less background distraction.

    1. I seek it out, and really appreciate all that's out there to enliven the public spaces. I agree with you, the view from the path against the blue sky is better.

  2. Replies
    1. It might look prettier with Eva the caravan posed in front, with a happy traveler peaking out the window.


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