By Bob Huber
Last month folks in this neck of the republic glared at bleak and shadowy clouds and muttered, “All right, enough is enough!” They were, of course, referring to the soggy conclusion of the drought hereabouts and the beginning of what frontier historians would someday cite as “The Year When Everyone Had to Learn to Tread Water.”
Of course, events in Florida overshadowed all available newscasts on television, even though their weather persons lacked enough sense to get in out of the rain. The real news here was that in the sandy shallows of the Southwest we received enough precipitation to make us firm believers in certain Biblical sagas.
That said, I must admit here and now that I was responsible for those rains. You see, I washed my car and watered the lawn last month, sure cures for any drought, a curse I’ve lived with for years.
Oh sure, I still believe in TV and radio weather persons. I didn’t water the grass or wash the car for a month waiting for their predicted rainfall, which never came, of course.
So when my lawn died and my car changed colors from silver to yuck, I dragged out the hoses. I know, I shouldn’t have.
You see, Zeus, sitting atop Mount Olympus, looked down and said, “Well, old Bob is watering his grass and washing his dirty car again. It must be time for deluges, floods, torrents, inundations, and watery surges, and maybe a little cricket plague too.”
The upshot was, I began to feel bad last week for those hardy ranchers who live without asphalt roads or county gravel trucks on the fringes of civilization. I was ashamed — I really was — that I washed the car and watered the lawn.
That’s why I sent a little apology to a friendly ranch family I know, explaining my rain beckoning phenomenon and citing remedies like building an ark or taking scuba lessons. I didn’t get a response right away, but one day I did see someone in a white pickup waving a fist at me. At least I think it was a fist.
But then I got a return note from the wife of the rancher — I won’t reveal her name; she knows who she is — and she said, “I can tread water wonderfully well, thank you, as I was a trained life guard in my former life a century ago up in Cleveland, Ohio.”
She went on to say it was true she had developed webbed feet recently, and it’s doggone difficult to get shoes over them. She also said moss was growing on the north sides of everything, and she was concerned where it might pop up next.
Then she lapsed into meteorical data stating that in just nine days, they had amassed 7.53 inches of rain on the ranch, which was more than the total for the entire last year. She calculated that with earlier rains this year they totaled four times more than last year, with three more months remaining.
She also said she was surprised to hear I felt responsible for the current wet deluge. She thought it was global warming or at least a campaign promise from some politician. But I bamboozled her when I said it might be a good idea to brush up on the use of a “cubit.”
She said, “I needed to consult my trusty Webster Collegiate, which was nowhere to be found. That’s because we just had the flooring in our living area replaced” — I presume it floated away — “and my dictionary and all other books were still piled in heaps on our bedroom floor.”
So she consulted her handy computer expert and spell-checker (who happens to be another anonymous person) and was informed that a “cubit” was a measurement used in building the Ark of Biblical fame. As for building an eastern New Mexico ark, she said they had plenty of leftover plywood from construction, and they were thinking about fashioning a raft from those scraps combined with fallen tree branches.
“Hopefully, we won’t get too many blisters from rowing before we find high ground,” she added.
Lest you have some doubts about her seriousness, let me tell you that I found her letter in a bottle washed up on my beach front property. Who would have thought the prevailing currents ran in this direction?
All of this I pondered until the last sentence in her message, which said, “Thanks for sending us all this moisture.”
Yep, that’s exactly what she called it — “moisture.”
I’ll bet they don’t use that kind of language in Florida, not in public anyway.
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. He can be contacted at 356-3674.