Water resistant

We’ve been driving in the rain quite a bit in the last couple of days. In Mount Vernon, Washington, we had to hitch up to our camper and leave in the rain. Our overnight in Coeur d’Alene was rainy and we were in and out of showers all day yesterday as we drove across Montana. The forecast calls for us to drive out of the rain a bit today, though there is a good chance of thunderstorms in Rapid City tomorrow. I’m fond of saying that I’m waterproof. It isn’t quite the case, but I’ve been wet a lot of times. I’ve fallen into lakes, gone swimming intentionally, and been splashed by heavy rains. Once, when we were in Costa Rica, I was wearing a mostly waterproof rain jacket. I didn’t have the hood up. It was hanging down the back of the jacket. It was raining hard and I was trying to escort some others to a dry place. I paused for a moment to put up my hood and, you’ve got it, it was full of water. I was soaked to my underwear. I felt a bit like that on Wednesday when I prepared to leave Washington. I had been working outdoors, packing up the various things we use when our camper is parked long term in a location, rolling up and stowing hoses, electrical cords and the like. I discovered that what I thought was a good rain coat isn’t as waterproof as I had thought. I ended up needing to change all of my clothes before we started driving. Luckily I had a good dry place to change into dry clothing. Later that day, we stopped at a boat inspection station as we entered Idaho. The inspector apologized for the bit of rain that fell on my elbow as we talked through the open window of my truck. I gave my “It’s OK, I’m waterproof,” comment.

I’ve decided that I need to revise the comment. I guess I’m not truly waterproof, just water resistant. That’s what the manufacturer says about my rain jacket. It repels most water, but will become saturated if immersed in water. Apparently a heavy rain constitutes immersion. I can swim, but I’m not able to breathe under water.

It is a cause for reflection for me because we have lived most of our lives in pretty dry places. The average annual rainfall in my birth town is 15 inches. It is about the same in the town where we lived in North Dakota. It’s a bit dryer in Boise, Idaho, with about 13 inches. Rapid City is a bit wetter, with 18 inches. Compare those numbers with the US average, which is 38 inches of precipitation per year. I’ve lived most of my life in a place with less than half the normal precipitation. I really don’t know what it is like to live in a wet climate. All the same, I like to visit places where it rains a lot. I’m especially drawn to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. When we visited there during the years we had small children in our family, I used to point out the trees that were over 100 feet tall and say to our kids, “See, that’s what happens when a tree gets watered.”

Our son lived for several years in Olympia, Washington, where the average annual rainfall is 50 inches. I learned that having a good rain jacket was a good idea in those years and I even learned to carry an umbrella in my car. Now he and his family have moved to Mount Vernon, which is in an area Washingtonians call a “rain shadow.” Their annual precipitation is right at the national average of 38 inches per year. What I notice most about our visits to their home is how much more successful they are at gardening than we. They have a nearly unlimited supply of strawberries in the summer. Their freezer fills up with the delicious berries and their children are allowed to pick all they want to eat. There are cabbages that are bigger than my head in their garden and they pick cherry tomatoes by the basketful each day. They do water their garden in the evenings during summer days, but mostly do so by hand. They hardly ever need to set up a sprinkler and let it run for an hour or more, something that is just a normal part of gardening in our part of the country. As I did my chores before leaving their home, I noticed that among the other effects of the overnight rain, their rain barrels were completely full and running out the top. They won’t need to water their garden this week.

Today we return home to our relatively dry place. We’ll be able to set out some of the things that have gotten wet over the last few days. If they get wet in an evening thundershower, chances are they’ll dry out before noon the next day. That’s the way it is where we live. I don’t know the status of my lawn, but most Augusts I allow the grass to go dormant and wait until the next spring to be surrounded by green grass. That’s the thing about having been away for a long time, I don’t know exactly what to expect upon my return. I’m sure there will be no shortage of chores that need to be accomplished. I am, however, eager to get home and back to a place that is familiar to me. I love traveling and having the luxury of two trips to Japan in as many years is something that we will always remember. But I also love coming home. Rain or shine, we are looking forward to being back in South Dakota. We have been blessed with cool days for travel, which is pretty nice compared to some August trips that we have made in other years.

Being only water resistant, it will be good to dry out a bit.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!