Funny Thing About the Rain,,,,,,,

    Funny Thing About Rain,,,,,


       Rusty Fleming 


Late April and wet here in westerly Texas, today feels like a cool fall type rain,,,,odd at least to us desert dwellers,,,, rain these days is a scarce commodity,,,,,yesterday in a moment of weakness, following a 3/10th of an inch froggy strangler, we have small frogs here in westerly Texas and thus it don’t take much rain to strangle one,,,  to take advantage of this mini-monsoon we are having, I bought some grass seed to fill in some balded barren spots in my "yard",,,,”yard” being  a loosely used term in dry climes around the southwest,,,,, I always wanted to plant ahead of a rain,  but over the years I have wasted an abundance  of every kind of seed conceivable doing that, planting ahead of that rain that never came,,,,,, so now, onct this damped spell ceases, I will have to plant "ON" the rain,,, how does one do that,,,???  Yes, that IS a query,,,,any and all advise on the subject offered shall and will be taken,,, I'm wondering if the local farmers co-op is having a "run" on rain gauges this morning,,,, after a wet spell, no matter the size,  nobody wants to be asked, how much rain’d yall get,,,and not be able to answer due to the lack of a moisture measuring device,,,,,I heard rumor the hardware store had a better supply of gauges, and sure nuff, I ventured in and there were several sizes, varieties and colors of gauges,, I finally picked a couple that had the fewest moving parts,,, usually the acquisition and erection of a rain gauge was a surefire way of ending a wet spell,,, It’s almost like rain is scared of an empty rain gauge,,,,


So after I picked the two I wanted, I was paying for them and asked the check out girl if they were guaranteed to work,,,she got a funny look, picked one up, read both sides and said “I’m not sure”,, I said I’d really appreciate it if they were ‘cause I had bought a couple last year and they didn’t work,,, I then asked her if she knew how  a rain gauge worked  and that blank look returned,,,so feeling sorry for her, I asked if she knew what a rain gauge did,,, she said, “I may have to ask my manager”,,, I thought I’d save her and told her, the purpose of a rain gauge was to measure rain,,,, and the ones I’d bought the year before didn’t do that. I told her to  let me know what she  learned from her supervisor, she said “Yessir”, and I headed out the door,,, I think that girl has a great future as a research analyst in some enviro-connected occupation near the greater downtown Portland or Seattle or San Francisco areas,,,I haven’t heard from her, but I was concerned about how she’d call since I forgot to give her my number.


Some eons ago, on an oil and gas project north of Altus, in the midst of a dry bleak okie autumn, I was driving to one of the several courthouses I had to haunt on that project conducting title research, I witnessed dirt a-fly in the midst of a plowed field,,,,the dirt and dust was so thick you had to get in front of the action to see it was caused by a tractor dragging a planter,,, I jokingly  said to myself,, " LOOK ,, it's a dry run" ,,,, I thought it was funny, me being a desert oriented dweller from numerous  drouthy background(s) and easily entertained,,,,, I was witnessing an okie farmer practicing his trick and fancy farming technique,,,,,just in the event and in case it did rain someday,,,, At the time I thought it amusing but as we all know there are times it don't take much to entertain me,,, I traveled that road many times during that project as it was about the only road going in a northerly direction from Altus, and if you have never traveled southwestern Okie-land,,, a haunting lingering feeling of the depression days never goes away, so I adapt to a lot of self entertainment concepts driving alone,,,,and on occasion have to share these darkly scented sometimes shady colored entertaining thoughts, thanks to cell phones,  that allow me to share some of those thoughts with friends from all over,,, right then I called a wisened old amigo, a successful cow exchanger kinda guy, of famous renown, Jess Burner, who at that time owned the crossing pens on this side of the river at Presidio and I thought Jess’d get a grin out of this situation. 

Jess was well known as being a bovine ownership transfer enabler involving cattle acquiring United States citizenship whilst renouncing their native homeland of Mejico,,,,down along the sleepy Rio Grande,,,WOW,,,that  had to have been in the early 2000's,,, anyway I was sharing the story with Jess about this okie land tender, practicing his planting technique and we had a big laugh and glad we weren’t farmers.


As the song goes, time marches on and a few short weeks later, I'm again headed north to a faraway courthouse, in the predawn emptiness of the paved okie backroads, when POOF, what should appear but ,,, WHAT ???,,, SNOWFLAKES !!!!,,, and they got heavier and in a bit when I had some daylight,,I could see the ground was covered with a good 2 to 3 inches of snow and more coming down,,, I called Jess,,,, reported what I was witnessing and in his best Jess-wisened way says, "Makes them wheat boys look pretty smart don't it,,,,". 


Wisht I'd'a had yard grass seed down a few days ago,,, but wait,,, the ground was hard, and I'm not one to wantonly waste grass seed on dry ground and watching it feed feral town doves and grackles before it can take root and look pretty,,,, so I held off putting out any seed, but knowing the weather guys said it was gonna get wet,,, and once again, I am now behind the proverbial 8 ball,,, but at least, it is currently approaching a wet planting environment,,, I'll try to keep yall posted,,, stay tuned,,, and don't whup out the  slickers yet,,, nothing can ruin a good damp spell like the threat of a slicker, even worse than a new fresh mounted and erected rain gauge,,,,, So, here’s hoping everybody I know gets a good dose of this wet spell,,, I know we live in a perpetual drought interrupted by occasion spells of dampness,,,, Monte Noelke once stated he dreaded the end of a good shower as it was usually the beginning of the next drouth. And never let it be forgotten Elmer Kelton wrote a very accurate and graphic book of dry in his book “The Time It Never Rained”. Elmer commented that the book, written about the drought of the 50’s, was if anything, an understatement of how bad times were back then, and any rain was not to be taken for granted,,, at the time Elmer was writing the book, he was also the farm and ranch reporter for the San Angelo newspaper, and he told me years later, he had to write about, not just difficult farming and ranching times,  but that he’d run out of ways to tell how dry it was.


I was a wet nosed button during that drought, and had no idea how bad it was ‘cause I was too young, and had never seen it wet. We were part of a pretty big sheep and hair goat ranching family in the Sacramento Mountains in south central New Mexico then,,,, that country was dry but was saved as a few well spaced rains kept the grazing conditions fair, but all the waters in that country were either mountain springs and dirt tanks,,, and for 7 years, it never ran tank filing water on LOTS of those ranches,,,those tanks got mighty low with no runoff water,,,,,there were no windmills back then, nor many  water wells in that country ‘cause the water was deeper than had been discovered back then,,, and no community pipeline water systems back then,,, our house water was from the cistern in the front yard that caught rainwater off the tin roof, via  rain gutters that ran into the cistern,,,,never a drop was wasted,,, boy and girls, it was a bit different back then,,, oh yeah, that includes no indoor plumbing, you can imagine the rest of that part of the story,,,,,and our only electricity was provided by a windcharger,,, a three bladed windmill that powered a generator and stored electricity in “wet” storage batteries in a wooden storage shed at the base of the windcharger tower,,, now please be aware, the wind didn’t blow all the time, so yes, conserving electricity took on a different meaning than it has these days,,, and people think renewable energy sources are new,,,PASHAW!!!  POPPYCOCK!!! Now, we did have butane, meaning there was a gas fired cookstove in the kitchen but the wood stove was right there beside it. The wood stove had seniority cause it was there first. There was a pot belly wood heat stove in the living room, but steady yalls selves, the refrigerator was kerosene powered. There ,,, go google that, kiddies. It was handy as there was always a barrel of kerosene for lamp use, and the kerosene fridge was lots safer that the gasoline model that was available back then. But by the time I came along, the kerosene fridge was doomed to being replaced by a propane fridge. Progress was never ceasing around there back then.


Well, here’s hoping everybody gets wet,,,,there are not many areas in the southwest that are having “too much” moisture right now, but maybe we can see grass stirrup deep, belly high to a tall pony and grama grass waving in the breeze once more,,,,


,,,and maybe my efforts at being a yard grass grower will take a turn for the better.


Happy trails yall,,, more coffee and frijoles please,,,,




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