ANN BAILEY: Whether the days are wet or dry, it’s best to take them one at a timeWhen I catch myself longing for a dry spell, I turn my thoughts, instead to how the rains have made the pastures and lawns lush and how the hot, wet weather has been good for the garden. As with many of life’s challenges, the key to getting through them, for me, is to take them a day at a time, whether they’re wet or dry, and try to find something positive in each one while at the same time, hoping that next year things will be better.
This summer, with its frequent heavy downpours, has brought back memories of the summer of 1993, the first time that I witnessed firsthand the widespread devastation that too much rain can cause.
In July 1993 Herald photographer Eric Hylden and I traveled to southern Minnesota and northern Iowa to do stories for Agweek, the Herald’s farm magazine, about the damage heavy rains were causing to the corn and soybeans.
I recall climbing partway up a silo to get a bird’s eye view of the flooded fields and being amazed by the amount of acres that were under water. Growing up on the farm, I could recall summers when a cloudburst had drown out an acre or two, but the magnitude was nothing like what I saw that summer in Minnesota and Iowa.
During our stay in those two states, the lakes in the fields continued to grow. Every cloud that passed over seemed to drop an inch or two of rain and I recall someone comparing the rainy period to the one that caused the big flood in Noah’s day. “But that lasted only 40 days,” the person remarked.
Too much of a good thing
Not long after Eric and I returned to Grand Forks that summer, heavy rains started to fall here and my parents’ fields started to fill up with water. For much of the past 18 years the fields around their home and ours southeast of Larimore, N.D., house have looked like the ones that Eric and I saw in southern Minnesota. And here, like in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, every cloud that passes over seems to drop at least a half inch of rain, whether precipitation is forecast or not.
One of the things I’ve observed about weather forecasts is that when it’s a wet cycle, it can rain when there’s a 20 percent chance and if it’s a dry cycle nary a drop falls when there’s a 90 percent chance of rain. During the 1988 drought, I recall the sky could be covered with clouds, lightning would be flashing and thunder, crashing and no rain would fall.
Now, it can be a sunny, bright day, with a few fluffy clouds overhead and before you know it, the sky turns dark and the rain begins to fall.
The worst weather
Another thing I’ve observed is that whatever weather cycle we’re in seems to be the worst. During the drought of 1988 when the crops and pastures dried up and hot, dry winds whipped up dirt, I longed for buckets of rains to fall. I would watch the weather forecast every night, hoping that rain was predicted, and if it was, scan the sky to see if clouds were gathering. Most of the time, they didn’t, and even if they did, no rain, or only a few drops would fall.
Then, in 1993 when the rains started falling and flooded fields and mosquitoes made it miserable to be outside, I became nostalgic for the dry weather of 1988. I long for fields without pot holes filled with cattails and evenings when I can pick raspberries without swatting mosquitoes.
The truth, though, is that neither weather extreme is good. Too much or too little rain are both hard on crops and people. And the reality is, we’re stuck with whatever cycle we’re in and no amount of wishing things would be different is going to change them.
So when I catch myself longing for a dry spell, I turn my thoughts, instead to how the rains have made the pastures and lawns lush and how the hot, wet weather has been good for the garden. As with many of life’s challenges, the key to getting through them, for me, is to take them a day at a time, whether they’re wet or dry, and try to find something positive in each one while at the same time, hoping that next year things will be better.