Possumhaw: And then there was rain


Shannon Bardwell



"On cable TV they have the weather channel -- 24 hours of weather. We had something like that where I grew up. We called it a window." 


-- Dan Spencer, author and comedian  




Early spring brought lots of rain. Prairie lakes were full; spillways flowed like streams. Daily Sam checked water levels of local creeks and lakes. He checked Grenada Lake where crappie grow large and plentiful. High water levels are not conducive to spawning crappie. 


At home, grass greened and perennials returned. Seeds and annual bedding plants were sown in the ground and in flower pots. It was a pleasant time to work the flowerbeds and garden. Then, the rains stopped. 


Though I began to water an hour each morning while Sam moved sprinklers across the grass, the ground began to show half-dollar size cracks. Blades of grass shriveled as did the clover. The flowers bowed their heads until water from the hose revived them again. It's a wonder how fast a drought can come on.  


Then last week we heard of spotty showers. Always at someone else's home and not ours. We watched the clouds and checked the weather reports -- maybe 30 percent chance, maybe 50 percent we'd get rain, but none came. 


I watched geese, egrets and ducks move into the fields hunting dried seed. Then one morning there was a brown lump of a critter moving across the field. It was too far away to determine what kind. Then it raised its head. Possibly a goose, but not quite. It walked "like an Egyptian," bobbing its head back and forth, its tail was long. I realized it was a turkey, a lone hen. 


I slipped inside for a second to retrieve the camera so I could show Sam. In that short time the hen was gone. Perhaps back into the woods or into the higher grass. She would return the next day. It pleases me to see turkeys.  


The bluebirds have a brood in the bluebird box. The adults fly in and out. Harry, the cat, noticed the activity and draped himself over the box. I fashioned a cat baffle from some hog-wire made for a tomato plant support. Harry quickly learned he could pass through the wire. I covered the baffle with a large blue sheet. Visitors ask what that contraption was. "A cat baffle," I'd say. So far, it's working. 


At the lake a wild duck entered the wood duck box. Oh, how I wish I could see ducklings. Watching the ducks fly into the duck box is like watching the Concorde fly into a 12-inch hanger and stop on a dime. It's a marvel of nature.  


Middle of last week we were retiring for the evening when Sam said, "There's a possibility of rain tonight." He didn't sound very hopeful. 


And so, it was in the middle of the night we were awakened by thunderous roars and strikes of lightening. The next morning the ground was saturated, the dust washed off the trees and the new crepe myrtle shoots bowed low, flowers draped over, but hallelujah the prairie had rain, rain and more rain.


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


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