Written Wanderings

It seems I’ve always been a writer. Expressing through a pen thoughts, feelings, dreams, making up stories, this was all part of living. Then came adulthood with real work, family, community – and the writing took a back seat to all that seemed important at the time. I was the same person, but part of me was contained in unexpressed prose. I’m happy that this new life gives me time to be a writer again. I have the blessing of words back; I can speak in a familiar way and take you, my reader friend, along for the journey.

So where should we journey? Back to a time not so long ago when I was a child? Living a summer adventure in the Ohio valley, running in the heavy air and damp grass, watching fireflies glow and then disappear in the twilight. Or maybe we will go to Parsons and walk by the river with my tiny hand in the firm grasp of my father’s and listen to the stories of his youth and a simplicity of life that has flowed away like a single drop of rain in the ocean of time.

We could take a journey of the senses – a romp through sights and smells and sounds. Each etched in a memory for me and an experience for you. We can travel together on a textural quest and feel the wild Wyoming wind sharp and bracing against our skin or breathe the hot, dusty, sagebrush summer air.

Come along with me and we can revel in being young and reckless, bouncing around in the back of a pickup truck. Or join me in contemplating the passing of youth and the heft of raising a child – or four – to become young citizens of an ever more complicated world. We may venture to lean on each other in loss and wander the cold, dimly lit paths of grief to reappear in the warmth of humor that was tucked under a memory.

Maybe we will begin along a well-worn road and take a detour to something unfamiliar. It is probable that we will trek along only to careen off of a cliff and fly away to something new. (Oh, that happened today.) Wherever we go, it will be made joyful by a companionship of words.

Where shall we journey, my reader, my friend? So many places to experience together, so little time in our lives to take the quest. Come with me and see new places, or view the familiar places through new eyes, just take a moment – you’re invited, and I am ready – to write.

Appalachia Song

There is something comforting and attractive in what is familiar to the senses. Each of us is tuned in to notice what says “home”. Usually this comes from the elements that surrounded us as children, so the music of the familiar is initially composed by our family.

Many times during my childhood we travelled from our western haven in Wyoming eastward to family in West Virginia. Great-grandma, grandma, and my aunt’s generous family were the focus of our visits. The visits were summer excursions into the dialect and rhythm of Appalachia. The singing of cicadas, the chorus of songbirds, and the language of my family wrote an indelible melody in my subconscious.

As a child you do not understand or comprehend the way that your extended family influences your life. This hidden influence was brought to my attention in a local restaurant on our first house hunting trip to Morgantown. I could feel the change in my demeanor when I heard our waitress speak; the familiar surrounded me and I quite suddenly felt relaxed.

“She sounds like my cousin.” I told my husband when the waitress left our table.

“How’s that?”

“It’s the way she speaks.” I couldn’t accurately describe at the time what it was in her voice that reminded me of my cousin. I have now pinned it down to a few sounds that strike the familiar notes. Most prominent is the short “a” that sounds like “awe”. This vowel pronunciation makes “grandma” sound like “grandmaw” and easily slips its way into even the shortest conversation.

There are also certain terms and colloquialisms that I pick up in my sojourns about town. When heard, the statements almost always cause a giggle to escape me and I hope that the speaker doesn’t take offense to my chortle. Typically the grocery store is where the most familiar phrase comes within earshot and it usually has to do with a shopping cart. “Junior, go get grandmaw a buggy,” I overhear and an image of my own grandmother pops up, along with a stifled chuckle. I really should try to get this reaction under control since it probably looks like some sort of strange spasm.

I catch the nuances of sound faster now. Maybe I walk around more aware, listening for the harmonies of language that fill the local dwelling places. Each restaurant, market, and shop a place to imbibe in human sound. Every outdoor venue presents the opportunity for orchestral compositions from fauna of earth and water and sky. My ears and mind work together to knit the memories of childhood into the fabric of my current place in life, weaving something comfortable into what is new.

In knitting together the past and present, I sift through each experience collecting tidbits for the project. One such experience was last fall when my aunt came to visit our new house. She brought family photos, home canned vegetables, and the melody of a dialect song from my childhood, all things that warmed the space between our new house’s walls to begin to make it home.

Night Sky

The patio is our refuge from the world, a place where the background sounds of the neighborhood mix comfortably with a quiet personal spot for perfect relaxation. Late in the evening, you may find us chatting languidly over a glass of wine enjoying the dance of fireflies in the trees that surround our backyard.

“Beautiful evening.” The man of few words, my husband, succinctly observes.

“I miss the stars.” I sigh.

In nearly every way our lifestyle and living conditions here in West Virginia have made this new home “Almost Heaven” – yes, just like the song. However, most of the stars are missing from the sky.

I knew that the vast western sky was going to be something that I would be leaving behind. As moving day from Kemmerer was drawing near, I would gaze out with awe and wonder at the huge aqua palette that God used for the day, and feel a melancholy ache in my heart. But looking up at the night sky would instill a sense of regret; I knew that many of the stars in the sky were going to disappear with the density of humanity in the east.

If you have ever visited the remote places of the earth you may know the sight. Wyoming’s starry night sky defies description. Your view of the sky in Wyoming is unobstructed – seemingly even by the air itself. No humidity, no pollution, and at night, no light. As you look out toward the horizon on a moonless night the velvet-black sky hosts a sparkling veil of stars too numerous to count.  On a night when the Milky Way pours its shimmering white blanket across the sky, you can imagine walking up into the heavens along its path.

Some time back I met up with some women who were trekking across Wyoming. They were from the eastern states and were taken breathless by the night sky.

“I won’t be able to describe this to my friends.” One woman said to the other. “They simply would never believe that there are so, so many stars.”

Her friend replied, “And a sky so big, dark, it really is very empty.”

Yes, even though the sky was bursting with stars, she described it as empty. I do know what she is saying, and I came about it back shortly after my college years.

As a summer hand for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, I spent many weeks in a remote spot at the south end of the Big Horn Mountains. This central Wyoming location was a full two hours away from the city of Casper, and an hour from any evidence of civilization. I studied and mapped the ecology of the area by day and spent the nights alone with only my dog and a campfire for company. As the fire would dwindle, I would look up into the vast Wyoming sky and feel the closeness of millions of stars; almost near enough to touch. Even so, the black sky was empty, a lonely expanse. I felt very tiny, no more than a speck of dust in the turning of time. Truly, it was the most humbling experience I had ever had and one that will never be forgotten.

I see that big Wyoming sky in my mind’s eye and hope to visit it soon. Until then, I will miss the stars.

Kemmerer’s Music Festival – Oyster Ridge

Are you looking for a barrel of fun for the weekend? Not much money? Need a break where you can be yourself and feel perfectly comfortable? If you are in or near southwest Wyoming the Oyster Ridge Music Festival http://www.oysterridgemusicfestival.com/index.html is the place for you beginning Friday, July 26. This weekend marks the 20th year of the festival that swells the host area to nearly twice its population and gives the music lover an opportunity to sample the up-and-comers of  bluegrass, folk, blues, country and rock – most of it a mish-mash of many combined styles – musical bliss and it’s free!

Early on the going got pretty rough for the free music festival. The little town of Kemmerer, Wyoming is a sleepy haven of coal miners and ranchers speckled with a smattering of public service and government workers; not folks that typically engage in social musical entertainment. I recall driving by the Triangle Park in the late ‘90s, knowing that the music festival was in “high gear” with nary a soul in sight, the lonely band on the stage singing into the empty space. I looked on feeling sad and guilty, sad that yet another local celebration seemed to be dying before my eyes and guilt that I wasn’t contributing with my presence. I returned home after some errands to announce to my husband that we should be in the park supporting the musicians and the community.

“Maybe next year.” He said and went on with the work at hand.

“There might not BE a next year!” I retorted with some desperation.

Lucky for us there was a next year. We spread a large quilt on the grass of the park and positioned the family around to partake of the music. We delighted in the entertainment as we whiled away a Saturday in the summer sun. By evening everyone was up dancing barefoot in front of the bandstand. We went home with dirty feet and singing souls . . . we were hooked.

In the following years, we dropped all projects and plans so that we could wallow in the “Oystergrass”. It wasn’t long and we were volunteering, my husband at the beer booth and me at an information booth. When family came to visit we would drag them along drawing them into the musical revelry. Over the years we eagerly awaited ORMF saving back vacation days to fully enjoy the three days of music and merriment in the park – with an extra day off to recover on Monday. We watched as former residents would return for the community celebration, and always delighted in the many friends that gathered together over blankets and beer.

I brought Oystergrass to West Virginia with me on a bumper sticker that went the way of the dodo when my car was rear-ended several months ago. (Heidi, I need a new bumper sticker!) I also found a way to reuse those music festival t-shirts that had become ragged around the edges from so much wear – pillows. Leaving behind the people of Kemmerer and especially the Oyster Ridge Music Festival was more difficult than I could have imagined. There is a big blank space in my calendar for this coming weekend, an emptiness that I long to refill. Hopefully next year I can revisit and revive, but until then I will need to get by on the spirit of Oystergrass that I brought in my heart, the friendly spirit that gathering around music can bring. I hope to sprinkle it around the neighborhood a little and watch it grow.

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Sights and sounds of ORMF: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GT7sXYiO9Bk

Frontier Treasures

Today was the first full day of the 2013 “Daddy of ‘em All” a title that probably means little to those outside of rodeo fans and the populace in and around Cheyenne, Wyoming, or maybe I don’t know the popularity of this annual extravaganza. The western celebration of rodeo, night shows, parades, pancakes, and a miscellany of carnival and hoopla is Cheyenne Frontier Days and it becomes part of your life in southeastern Wyoming. This ten-day event marks the middle of summer and it blisters with action nearly 24-hours each day.

As a child I eagerly awaited Frontier Days each year. It was a time filled with activity and wonder. I excitedly watched the parade from the downtown sidewalks admiring the trove of beautiful horses. I scrambled for bits of “gold” and “silver” thrown from the mining floats and thrilled at the mock outlaw shootouts. Every year we would stand waiting, for what seemed an eternity, to savor the sweet taste of free pancakes, ham, and juice served up by the local Kiwanis Club.  I have a few memories of watching the rodeos; these consist of dust flying and blurred images of legs – horse legs, cow legs, and legs of cowboys.

A child’s memory is a funny thing; it focuses on the immediate field of vision. That limited vision often gets a kid in trouble. My most striking childhood memory of Frontier Days is the visit to the “Indian Dance” which took place in the downtown streets. The tribal members would set up in the round and entertain the crowd with traditional song and dance. As the culminating event, the children in the audience were invited to join in the round and dance alongside the tribe members in their beautiful beaded costumes. I couldn’t have been much more than five-year’s old when I ventured into the swirling cloud of fringe and feathers. The drums thump-thumping, the women’s voices in high, hollow chorus and the throaty chant from the men filled my ears. I stomped and spun along with the crowd. When the dance was over I looked around for my parents, but they were nowhere in sight. The drumming continued, but now it came from my heart as panic ensued. I felt breathless and confused, the world was spinning, but I was standing still. My eyes welled up with tears. All I could see was the blurry figures of the tribe members, the beauty of their beaded costumes washed away in my frightened confusion.

Suddenly I was swept up in the arms of my father, who had never taken his eyes off of me. He came to my rescue and brought me back to the safe grasp of my mother’s gentle hand.

I don’t remember ever joining the dance again. I remained satisfied with the safe sideline activities, especially the parade. I loved horses and dreamed of riding one in that parade one day. I never did ride a horse in the parade, but I got something much better.

“Oh, look at that cute little boy on that great big horse.” My mom pointed out to the street at one of the boys from a local riding group. I didn’t think much of the boy at that time in my life, but the horse was great.

Many, many years later my mind’s eye looks back on the parade and the little boy who became the love of my life and is my husband today. Little did I know what treasure existed at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Parade.

See more about Cheyenne Frontier Days here: http://www.cfdrodeo.com/home

The Rules of Golf

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There is a commercial on TV that features a popular professional golf player chastising a casual golfer who has just kicked his ball away from a tree. This cracked me up the very first time I watched. That commercial goes through my head every time I go out on the course. There are several beautiful golf courses here in Morgantown. I’ve had the pain and pleasure of playing three of them. Pain because I am a beginner and they are difficult for me to play and pleasure because each is lovely and I enjoy playing golf. This is a surprising phrase as I “never” thought I would actually go out and play the game. Rule #1: Never say “never”.

My first attempts at using a set of golf clubs came in high school. I was not an athlete; so when the choices available for our P.E. class were coed volleyball, field hockey, or golf, I determined that golf presented the least likely scenario for broken bones and signed up. Week 1: learn to grip the club and practice swinging at an imaginary ball – wow; I was pretty good at this already! Week 2: place a REAL ball on a rubber mat in front of you and hit it. This was my downfall; no matter how hard I tried I simply could not hit that little ball. Week 3 came and went; my classmates were learning different clubs and perfecting their swing, I still hadn’t hit the ball. Week 4: field trip to the local golf course to apply what was learned. I, however, was left behind at the school to continue to attempt to hit the ball. So, as you may have deduced, I never hit the ball. In the instructor’s words, “Maybe you shouldn’t play this game.” Rule #2: Learn in the right atmosphere with someone who can give you valuable insight.

In all my years in Wyoming I never attempted to play golf again, but I didn’t feel that I was missing too much. The weather was usually prohibitive and the courses that I was familiar with were not very scenic. My husband liked to play and enjoyed the game with his many friends all over the state.  So when he bought a golf glove, I wondered why; when he bought shoes, I thought he was going a bit overboard; and when he shelled out “big bucks” for a new driver and 3-wood – well you can imagine my dismay.

About a year ago I tried again to hit a little white ball off of a tee on a West Virginia golf course. This time I used a club from my youngest son’s junior set and had a few tips from my ever-patient husband. The club face came down and actually connected with the ball, it didn’t travel far but I was as giddy as if it had gone several hundred yards! Each consecutive attempt drew me further into a pastime that I hadn’t considered pursuing. Soon I had clubs (shared with my youngest), a hand-me-up glove (also from the youngest), and a good pair of golf shoes. Rule #3: Buy the correct equipment.

My husband and I play a few holes nearly every evening and we truly enjoy this activity together. I’m learning the rules and when scoring must take extra strokes for balls lost, hit out of play and into the pond. The game is a sine curve of ups and downs for me, but the challenge of developing my game within the rules is enjoyable.  Rule #4: Follow the rules and have fun.

As you can see these rules of golf apply in pretty much any situation. Take a chance and try (or try again), get good guidance and tools, and maintain integrity for the best experience. I consider this life lesson while looking down on my ball in the tall grass of the rough.

“Go ahead and fluff that ball up a bit, everyone else does.” My husband suggests as I pull my 5-iron from the bag.

I reply, “Rule #13 – The ball must be played as it lies.”

 

Popo’s Stories from Home

Dad was born in Morgantown, West Virginia; his beginnings are right here in the place that I now experience as home. He lived many of his formative years in the community of Parsons, West Virginia. Parsons sits among the hills at the confluence of the Shavers Fork and Black Fork creeks at the headwaters of the Cheat River.  Parsons is the place that my dad identifies as the roots of his life, what he would call his first home.

The word home identifies the place where you hang your hat, or take off your work clothes or eat your supper, but the meaning of home is so much more. Home may be where you feel most relaxed, or where you go to get renewed. Home may be where you started your life or where you are right now. Home, for most of us, is where our family gathers to share, and laugh, and cry. Most of all, I think, home is where your heart continues to venture whether in being or memory, it goes there when life is good and mainly when life kicks you in the teeth.

In all of the places that I’ve called home, my dad has graced the space within the walls with his stories. The better part of the tales comes from the times in his youth running among the hickory and beech trees in Parsons. He recalls the antics of family and friends in a less complicated world where the kids were kicked out of the house in the morning and spent the day fashioning adventures of every type from the pickings of the earth. Most of the stories would get us all laughing to the point where our sides were sore. Mainly, his stories painted a picture of a world that is all but gone now, memories of people who passed through his life and became, briefly, part of ours.

In my home, and that of all my sisters, dad is called “Popo”, a term of endearment he gave himself upon the birth of the first grandson. So the stories retold under “Popo’s Porch Stories” are his, with some minor fabrication where I can’t recall the details, or need to add a name or keep an identity private. This is the living tribute to a gentle man who continues to be a giant in the eyes of his daughters and his grandchildren.

Dad, I hope you like these in the retelling.

Popo’s Swimming Story

Grandpaw had lots of rules, especially when it came to Jimmy and me. This was probably due to the fact that neither of us stood taller than his belt buckle and our combined age was less than his dog’s. We knew the rule, but today was the hot, muggy West Virginia summer day that makes the rules melt right out of your head. Grandmaw and all the big kids were otherwise occupied, so we hiked down to the swimming hole on the Cheat River together. Like I said, this went cross-wise to Grandpaw’s rules, “No swimming alone.” Alone meant without the big kids or an adult, but no one was watching, so who would know? We’d spend the day in the cool water and be back by supper.

We reached the bank of the swimming hole and I stuck my big toe in the water. The cool feeling traveled up the bottom of my foot as I stepped in.

“Stop!” Jimmy hollered at me, “Are you stupid? You gotta take your clothes off so we don’t get all wet and get in trouble.”

Since he was a bit older than me, and a hair taller, I knew that his advice was sound. We stripped down to our skivvies, carefully laid our shorts and shirts on the bushes and then jumped into the cool stream. The water washed the sticky day off my skin. I splashed Jimmy and he dove under, in a flash my feet were pulled out from under me and I fell backwards into the drink. We swam and played like this without regard to the passing of the day. After a while my grumbling belly made me think that it was probably getting toward supper time. “Jimmy, I’m getting hungry. Maybe we should get home.” We reluctantly trudged up the bank and gingerly pulled our dry clothes off of the bushes. Our dripping skivvies would dry as we walked up toward home. We meandered along up the hill and started up the dirt road towards Grandmaw’s house. I heard a rumble behind us and turned to see Mr. Sidlinton in his Ford pickup coming up the road.

“You boys need a ride?” Mr. Sidlinton’s low slow voice rolled over his arm through the open window of the driver door.

“Yes, sir.” Jimmy immediately replied.

Looking us over, Mr. Sidlinton said. “Looks like you boys better jump in the back.”

We climbed into the bed of the truck. Once seated, we thought it best we get our clothes back on since we were now making very good time back up to Grandmaw’s house. It didn’t take long and the truck was rolling to a stop. I peeped over the side of the truck bed to see Grandpaw taking his boots off on the back porch.

“I believe I have something that belongs to you.” Mr. Sidlinton droned out the window to Grandpaw. “Take a look in the back.”

Grandpaw’s face appeared over the tailgate. His brow furrowed and his mouth moved into a deep frown. “You boys get out and meet me on the porch.” His voice was stern. He thanked Mr. Sidlinton and soon stood in front of Jimmy and me on the porch.

“You boys been swimming?” His voice was low and serious. I shook my head, no. I could feel my face tingling. The realization hit that my drawers were soaked – we didn’t have the drying time that was planned for the walk home. “Dickie? Jimmy? Are you boys fibbing to me? Why are your clothes all wet?” My head started to spin, I couldn’t keep up the lie, but Jimmy broke first, “But, but, Grandpaw it was so hot, and . . . “

“Jimmy, you know the rule. Get over to that apple tree and break me off a switch.”

Jimmy walked over and broke off a twig no bigger than his finger and presented it to Grandpaw.

Grandpaw frowned, “That won’t do and you know it, get me a better switch.” This time he followed Jimmy to the tree. I stood watching the show. This was getting good. I must have snickered, because Grandpaw shot back over his shoulder, “Dickie, you’re next.”

What!? Panic shot up from my feet to my head and back down again. I zipped into the kitchen where Grandmaw was still cooking supper.

“Save me, Grandmaw! Save me!” I cried mournfully all the while listening to Jimmie’s howling in the back yard. She didn’t have time to react, Grandpaw was through the door. I hid behind her skirt as he came in.

“That boy’s due for a switching so let me at him.”

I didn’t wait for the reply; I scurried under the kitchen table, my heart racing.

“Dickie, you come out and get what your due.” Grandpaw lumbered over to the end of the table, but I scrambled to the other side just as he reached under. I knew if he caught me, I was a gonner. He followed around the side, I could see his feet. So off I went, back to the other end. Back and forth this chase went on all the while I could hear Grandpaw’s deep, stern tone, “Dickie, you come out. When I catch you, I’m gonna tan your hide. Get out here and take your medicine.” It all ran together mixed with the thumping of my heart in my ears.

“You are never going to catch that boy and you know it.” Grandmaw chided. Little did I know that she was gasping with laughter at the scene.

“Well I’m hungry, and this is taking too long.” Grandpaw sat down in his chair to eat and I cowered on the other end of the table, watching for any movement toward me. The world slowed as I watched Grandpaw’s feet while he ate. I lay down on the floor and his feet started to blur.

I woke up to the dark, quiet of the house. Everyone was asleep. I climbed the stairs and slipped into bed next to Jimmy. My fanny didn’t sting, but the whole incident scared me near to death. My eyes fixed on the open window, I could smell the heat of the day coming off of the trees, and I thought of the cool water in the swimming hole as I drifted off to sleep.

A Prayer for the Farmers

Saturday morning dawned clear and pleasant, a lovely day to do something outside. I dragged my husband out of bed early to experience the local farmer’s market. He was more enthusiastic than I anticipated, likely due to the two large cups of coffee that had been delivered to him hot and strong while he sat in bed.

On arrival to the marketplace, we wandered like lost sheep through the multiple vendors. As neophytes to the experience, we were overwhelmed by a sea of color and choices. Even this early in the season, the stands provided a bounty beyond expectation. Upon the tables were spread multiple varieties of leafy greens, onions, beans, and herbs in overflowing piles. It took us over an hour just to decide on a course of action, which was the proposed menu for the next few days as well as the list of fresh edibles to build the entrees.

Farmer’s markets are not uncommon in the west, but you will not find one in Kemmerer, Wyoming. The growing season there seldom goes beyond about 30 days, which is the average of frost-free days in the area, and the main reason that the primary farming that goes on around Kemmerer is of livestock. Livestock farming can be moderately successful barring any “unusual” circumstances of weather or disease or market fluctuation which are all too common. The ever-burdened timeworn look of the Kemmerer rancher is deeply chiseled into my memory. These men and women, truly Jacks and Jills-of-all-trades, were the backbone of every aspect of their operation from before sun-up until well after sun-down every day of the year. I didn’t know of a rancher who rested (unless under anesthesia) and vacations were all but unheard of. They poured their very soul into the ranch – it wasn’t just a place or an occupation, it was their life.

I worked with the Kemmerer ranchers for over 13 years and I truly miss these denizens of the range. They would come into the office briefly, usually under great difficulty of time or disposition, to manage paperwork and accounts. Sometimes (rarely) they would stay for a bit and discuss matters other than concerns with business. Most often they would meander in, pay a bill, grumble a little about the weather or costs or changes, notice that their cow dog was now ¼ mile down the road, and hasten off leaving but a puff of range dust where they once stood.

One particularly poignant memory is the good-bye from a rancher who was not only a community fixture, but also someone who was more of a “regular” in our office.

“So, what do you think you’ll do when you leave this place?” He softly questioned while sharing a gentle hug.

“I was thinking about doing some writing.”

“Well, don’t you forget about us, OK?”

Saturday I looked into the eyes of the market farmer and didn’t see the red from the western dust and sun, or the wrinkles from worry, or the hunched shoulders from years on the back of a horse. I saw a robust man with a round-cheeked smile and thought of how I hoped his years on the farm were showing in the glow on his face. He helped me remember, so I said a prayer for all farmers that this year would bring them something to smile about.

Rain

It didn’t rain yesterday. This is only notable because it had rained for the previous ten days; some days more, some less, but rain all the same. Having come from the water-starved west, I rejoice at the rain while missing the blue sky and sunshine. In other words, I’m still getting used to it.

Getting in the groove of a wetter climate has been a bit of a stretch for our family. It was most evident much earlier this season when we planted new grass seed and shrubs. We dutifully watered every day to “establish” the new plantings. Our neighbors would walk by the house watching our antics in amused curiosity. Of course, our activity all stems from past experience. Back in Kemmerer, Wyoming we would have never neglected to water the lawn. (Item number 2 on the “Never” list.)

My husband has done better at adjusting to the weather than I have. Our patio conversation from a month ago confirms –

“We should water the lawn.” I stated while nervously shifting in my patio chair.
“No, it’s gonna rain.” He responded.
“We’ll at least my roses, they’re wilting.”
“No, it’s gonna rain.”
“There’s not a cloud.”
“Sit down, it’s gonna rain.”
“No way.” I remarked confidently.

By the next day at noon almost ½” of rain had fallen.

So I’ve worked very hard at restraining myself from the daily watering addiction. The garden hose has stayed rolled up on the keeper with the exception of a couple brief moments when I used it for the flower pots on the porch instead of hauling a watering can around. I don’t know if this was out of convenience or the melancholy of walking by the lonely looking garden hose every day.

However, I haven’t even looked at the garden hose for the past two weeks. Our unofficial rain gauge, tea light holders on the patio, have filled to about an inch and been dumped out three times in that period. Three inches of rain is impressive to this Wyoming girl. I came to West Virginia quite unaware of the precipitation. My ignorance was demonstrated when I recently remarked to my spouse, “well at least it’s not as wet here as in Seattle.” WRONG – upon brief research the truth was revealed that Morgantown is wetter than Seattle – MUCH wetter. Morgantown averages almost ten inches per year more rain than Seattle, Washington.  I’ve decided to keep my mouth shut on “intelligent” climate remarks to my spouse since it’s causing him to believe that he is often right.

Remarks on the extensive gloom and rain were a brief topic in my Father’s Day chat with dad. I lamented on the grey sky and tempered the woe with light-hearted discussion of the many beautiful blooms that we have been graced with. He listened patiently, interjecting a knowing “yes” and “you don’t say” every so often to be gracious. He eventually wearied of my doleful conversation and cleverly concluded the subject with the following:

Dad, “You know the old-timers have a name for the weather you’re describing, don’t you?”

Me, “Really, what’s that?”

Dad, “Spring.”