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Possumhaw: No use in squalling


Shannon Bardwell



"It takes a real storm in the average person's life to make him realize how much worrying he has done over the squalls." 


-- Bruce Barton, author/politician (1886-1967) 




Looking out the glass doors, I watched the bottom fall out of the sky. When I went into the gym it was a bright, sunny, cloudless day. I leaned on the door and wondered when was it I stopped playing in the rain? 


Dressed in my gym clothes and my hair looking like I had rolled around on a yoga mat, I decided to walk in the rain. Cars stopped, water sloshed, streams headed to drains. It was decadently fun. I sat in the car, waiting for the rains to pass. At 90 degrees I'd dry off quickly, only the rains didn't pass. I carefully navigated through the Southside and toward the Prairie. I approached the Tombigbee River bridge, but the rain had not abated.  


It's scary crossing the bridge in heavy rains. I quickly made petition for safe travel, gripped the wheel and ascended. At the top, skies cleared and the rains lessened. Yet there were signs it had rained in the Prairie. Sam was on the river. I wondered if he had been caught by the squall. Sam's an expert boater, having grown up on the river. He also watches the weather with two or three apps on his phone. Still, I wondered. A truck with a boat passed, leaving the West Bank. I texted Sam. No answer. 


Turning right, I headed to the boat ramp. There was his truck and trailer. No other cars around. Still no answer from Sam. We discussed it once before. "What should I do if you don't return?" Sam said, "Call Bryant Wiygul." 


"Why would I call Bryant? He doesn't even have a boat." 


Afterwards, I went to the 911 office and asked. "What do you do in a boating emergency?" 


They assured me they have emergency responders for boating accidents. I told Sam that in future if he didn't call by dark, I'd call 911, but it was hours 'til dark. I called Sam's phone again and left a voice message and waited; no answer. There could be a lot of reasons for not answering -- one I didn't want to think about.  


I decided I'd go to the Corps of Engineers office. At least they'd know if the squall had come down the river. I walked inside and met a familiar and friendly face, Sandi Rader. I shared my concerns.  


Sandi said we hadn't had hard rains, but we weren't sure where Sam was on the river. About then Sandi's phone alert went off. Heavy storms were coming with dangerous lightening. Sandi said, "He needs to get off the river."  


I trusted Sam. I knew he was river-smart, but did he know the impending forecast? I called again. No answer. 


Then my phone lit up. "Dodging rains." That's all it said. 


I texted back, "More rain expected. Can you get off?" No answer.  


Out of options and knowing Sam was OK for now, I drove away, then quickly turned and headed back toward the boat ramp. 


Sam was taking out, so I pulled up beside him. He said, "I got 17, one 15 1/2 inches."


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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