By Helena Rodriquez: Freedom Newspapers
Being a weather forecaster is the most boring job this time of year. Today’s forecast: Hot and dry. Tomorrow, hot and dry, and this weekend, hot and dry with a snowball’s chance of rain.
Yeah we’ve had a few sprinkles here and there, even a little thunder to tease us, but nothing that would amount to a decent rainfall. The childhood chant, “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day,” is never heard around these parts because anytime we get a little of that water from heaven, people gather around office windows and stare out in awe at this mysterious element.
This is the time of year when weather forecasters get creative and start resorting to things like contests and trivia to shake things up and decide it’s a good time to review disaster preparedness procedures for winter blizzards. I remember one weatherman in Abilene, Texas, who got the summertime blues; so tired of the monotony was he that he packed up and left for the grayer skies of Oklahoma, also known as Tornado Alley, a weatherman’s paradise.
Many aspiring weather forecasters also dream of living in hurricane zones, picturing themselves in rubber boots standing in waist-high water cautioning people not to try that at home. In Dave Barry’s hilarious novel and movie, “Big Trouble,” the only casualties in the fictional Hurricane Hector are the news people standing out in the water cautioning people to evacuate.
When I was working at the Abilene Reporter-News during the summer drought of 2000, one of my editors got this great idea of doing a Sunday feature spread on how to do your own rain dance. The whole town was praying for rain by this time and there were church marquees around every corner urging people to do the same.
Anyway, this editor envisioned something like a series of step-by-step photograph frames instructing people how to do this rain dance, thinking it would catch on like the Macarena. This rain dance did not lend itself well to a step-by-step routine though, which explains why you don’t see people at Goober McCool’s and Kelley’s bars forming rain dance lines on the dance floors. In fact, one Native American was offended by our handling of this topic. I felt bad and apologized to her.
I know I’ve told this story before, but for new readers, the town of Abilene did finally get what we prayed for that summer of 2000. Rain it did. A deluge of water came down over the city fast and furious within a one-hour-span, violently pounding rooftops, flooding streets and underpasses and literally creating a waterfall in our pressroom. Talk about being careful about what you pray for.
Another memorable experience with rain was last summer when my daughter Laura and I went to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico on a Spanish Immersion Program with Eastern New Mexico University. We went with a group of students to see a lights and sounds show on top of a platform at the historic Mayan pyramids of Uxmal. It was a professionally choreographed show with special effects to go with the narration about these ancient ruins. Near the end of the show, as the Mayans were pleading to Chac, the god of rain, it began pouring down on us on that open platform.
“Cool special effects!” we commented to each other as we scrambled down the steep and now slick steps of that pyramid as fast as we could.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: