“Rain, rain, go away; come again some other day.”
SO THE rain did so—and forgot to come back for most of 2011. And prognosticators of such fear that the rain will continue to avoid us until a couple of years from now. Like parents, we take renewing and sustaining rain for granted until it is gone.
What happened? Look at any map of our region. We are shaded green, for goodness sake, supposedly a description of our most prominent natural color, because it rains here. Historically our region has received more than 40 inches of precipitation annually, most years all of it in rain.
No explanation of El Niño’s and such things will ever explain this season of dryness to plain folk such as we. We’d much prefer to go back to cursing the rain’s abundance when it blighted ball games, shortened picnics, threatened freshly prepared hair, leaving most of us happily unaware that the same rain also nourishes all plants—field crops to flower pots, fills reservoirs, restores aquifers. Last summer, mid the worst of it, I heard some say that when the rain finally fell they intended to frolic in it in a dance of gratitude. Next summer, we may be doing the dance in advance just to induce the rain.
RAIN COMES and goes not on whim, much less in response to wishes, but in consequence of natural forces. But we keep trying. Our culture has produced major writings and movies based on rain. The Rainmaker features a charlatan who uses the absence of rain to enrich himself; W. Somerset Maugham’s story Rain shows the impact of too much rain on human psychology and behavior.
We receive rain more often in these early months of a new year, but our lakes aren’t full and our aquifers have yet to recover. Cities all over our region have put water conservation plans in place; some restrict outdoor watering, others ban it altogether, making landscaping an unsustainable indulgence just now. Some raise the price of water, making such rewarding cultivation unaffordable.
DID YOU hear about the fellow who forgot to bring his umbrella to his community’s pray-for-rain service? That captures many of us doesn’t it?
Rain, rain, please don’t stay away. And you don’t have to hide away at night, as Arthur decreed in Camelot. Come anytime.
Archie P. McDonald is a professor of history and Community Liaison at Stephen F. Austin State University. His commentaries are also featured each Friday morning on Red River Radio, KDAQ 89.9 FM.