We've got mud

When I was a child, we had a rainy June one year. I remember that it was raining on the day that we got out of school for summer vacation and the following Monday, which was the first true day of summer vacation, it rained all day long. I did my usual trick for rainy days and went to the library and spend the day indoors reading. I can’t remember too much else from that summer. I’m pretty sure that the rain dried up and we got on with summer. I’m sure that I would have a clearer memory if it had been a summer when we didn’t play in the river, go fishing nearly every day, make tree houses and play.

I was thinking of that summer yesterday as I dashed from the car to the church during a rain shower. It didn’t rain all day long, but it did seem to rain at the moments I needed to go from one place to another. In the middle of the afternoon I was returning from having made a pastoral call and the water was pouring off of the roof of the church right only the sidewalk that leads to the East door, where I usually enter the building. I was thinking of the rainy June of my childhood, for another reason.

One day, when it was raining, we headed outside anyway. We were at our river place, where the water rises up into the yard when the river is high. The driveway is gravel, but the gravel is always being pushed off of the edges revealing the dirt underneath. One of my brothers was digging in the road with a stick and declared, “We’ve got mud!”

We’ve got mud in the church neighborhood. There are two streets that lead from West Boulevard up to the church. Fulton Street, which we sometimes call the back way, is completely closed and part of the road is trenched very deep as they install new water and sewer mains and a new storm sewer system. The work has been slowed by the nearly constant rain and the hole in the street is filled with mud. On the other side of the church, a new house is being built high on the hill. On Monday they started to bury the sewer and water lines for the new house and got far enough going down the hill to have a very muddy path going. I
ve been trying to figure out how they are going to make the various connections since the water main runs through a utility easement that the city has on our church’s side of the street. It is clearly marked by the utility flags put up by the people who have marked all of the utilities in advance of the construction. In order to get to it, they will have to trench across the other street that leads to the church. I don’t know the timing of the connection, but they are going to have to figure out how to bury the water line without totally disrupting traffic. I suspect that they are hoping to be able to dig under the street without having to tear up the surface.

At any rate, “We’ve got mud!”

I suspect that those who work in the mud and dig in the streets have less appreciation for the effects of rain than my brother had so many years ago.

Having grown up in a family whose business was dependent upon agriculture and having lived in the dry corner of North Dakota and the tip of the great desert in Boise, Idaho, I know that you always pray for rain and you don’t complain when it comes. I’ve lived through some pretty scary fire seasons here in the hills and I like to see the green grass. A mature ponderosa pine, the most common tree in the hills, can consume 30 gallons of water a day when the water is available. A spruce tree can suck up even more. Right now the trees are all being watered and there is plenty left over to run off, filling all of the streams and creeks to overflowing.

I know that the rains won’t last forever. They won’t even last the Biblical 40 days and 40 nights. And I’ve been conditioned not to complain. I think that one of the reasons that we talk about the weather so much is that it is one of the things in our lives over which we have no control. Despite studies in seeding clouds, making rain, and trying to affect severe thunderstorms, the results have been that what we are able to do has a very small effect on the scale of the weather. When we do impact the weather, such as human consumption of fossil fuels and global climate change, the effects are not specific to the exact weather in any one place. When you talk about the weather the only sure thing you can say is that there isn’t much you can say about it. Which, of course, doesn’t keep us from talking about the weather. I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had in the past few weeks that have started with comments about the weather. I’m thinking of responding to the next one with “We’ve got mud!” though I probably won’t remember to do so when the time comes.

I own a good raincoat and I’ll wear it if the showers settle in for a day of rain, but on the days when we receive showers, but have times when it isn’t raining, I’m likely to leave the rain coat at home. As a confirmed river rat and small craft boater I’ve already been wet. I know that there are worse things than getting wet. Sometimes I get wet on purpose. As I often say when someone apologizes for crying, “We’re waterproof. a little water doesn’t hurt a thing.” I don’t mind a few raindrops on my shirt.

And one thing about living in South Dakota is that the weather changes quickly. If you don’t like the weather, stick around. It’s bound to change.

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!