We can only imagine the overwhelming fear and helplessness that was felt by those ancient peoples who lived on the plains of the Americas some 6,0000 years ago when the rains no longer came and great dust storms enveloped the land for almost 1,000 years. It is known as the great drought of late paleo era and we think that such catastrophes can no longer affect our lives in these modern times.
So often my mother and father related stories of the depression years to me, relating the tales of hunger, of deprivation and hardship faced by so many. They told of the great dust storms of that dust bowl era and how the clap board houses allowed the dust and wind to infiltrate to such a point that wet rags were placed over their faces in order to breathe without inhaling the suffocating dust. They told of those desperate days when the government men came to buy cattle for 6.00 per head and then proceed to kill them all on site before the grim reaper called starvation took its final toll. Those were hard times and, like the millenniums before, it seemed that the rains would never come.
Once again during the 1950’s, when I was only a child, the tentacles of yet another drought held the land in its miserable grip and the old timers had to once more endure the hardships brought on by wind, dust and lack of adequate moisture. I remember bits of those years but not enough to cause apprehension later on when the threat of hard times hung heavy over the land.
In the late 1990’s I got my first taste of a real drought and the full appreciation of just the fragrance of moisture became a cherished gift. Again, like in earlier decades, the wind blew and the dust was ever present and, like a half century and before, the sky refused to share its gift of life.
It is now over a year into our current drought, touted by some to be the worst in over a century, and again I look in ernest to the sky and pray that its bounty will be offered in time to save men and women who have invested literal generations of work in establishing a life and identity for their beloved families. I said several times in the late 90’s that I would never complain again about too much rain and I have held true to that promise. And when the rains finally came on October 7, 2011 and filled the dry stock tanks with a life blood we so often take for granted, I stood at the edge of an old desiccated cattle tank, with the skeletal remains of a dead cow sunken in the cracked mud, and thanked God for his generous offering in this gift of life called rain.
Enjoy my celebration here of rain and the beautiful phenomenons that signify the coming or passing of this life blood and lets not make the mistake of ever taking it for granted as an entitlement that we deserve, but instead consider it a gift that is so generously offered from our ocean above.