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May 21, 2013 7:45 am

The Amend Corner: Raindrops

Written by Don Amend

Rain, rain, don’t go away.

That may sound strange coming from a guy who, just a few weeks ago, filled this space with stuff about feeling at home in the desert that covers most of the Big Horn Basin.

It’s not really, though. If I remember my college geography classes right, you can receive 8 or 9 inches of rain per year and still be classified as a desert dweller, and around here, the odds of getting more than that are pretty slim, so liking rain and living in the desert are not incompatible. Besides, while all those sunny days are nice, sometimes you need a break, so a few rainy days are welcome. Since our rainy days are pretty infrequent, it’s a good idea to celebrate them when you can, and that’s what I did last weekend.

Now, I know some of you do not like dreary rainy days at all. It’s true rain often comes at inconvenient times, and last weekend’s drizzle was certainly no exception. I imagine a whole bunch of graduation barbecues were spoiled Sunday, and there were no doubt some flowers and tomato plants that didn’t get put in place due to the rain.

Consequently, there are some who might take exception to this prose ode to wet weather this week. But I’m not responsible for the rain coming. I didn’t pray for it, perform a rain dance or seed any clouds, so I’m not going to apologize for simply enjoying it.

I admit, though, that I haven’t always been happy about raindrops falling on my head. Back in my younger days, for example, the first time I went to Jackson Hole, I never saw the Tetons during a three-day stay because of low cloud cover and rain. A few years later I missed them again when I drove through the area in the rain. In fact, I had to make four trips to the park before I finally saw the tops of the peaks.

My family has also had picnics and camping trips spoiled by the rain, including one scheduled for the only open weekend we had all summer one year. Another time rain literally washed us out of our tent and into a Rapid City motel for a couple of days, although the rain wasn’t totally at fault. The head camper, some guy named Don, inadvertently left the tent poles at home and the substitutes he devised were clever, but not strong enough to hold up a wet tent.

My daughter’s college graduation was marred by a huge storm that hit Sioux Falls, S.D. We were able to get to the gala banquet the night before, but flooding in the part of town where most people were staying kept many guests from attending, leaving long faces on many grads whose parents were stuck in motels due to streets that had turned into creeks.

But rain makes up for those inconveniences most of the time. That fourth time in the Tetons, when the storm cleared away, it left behind perfectly clean air that showed off the mountains in even more spectacular fashion.  When you pop out of your tent in the morning after a night of rain that kept you tented in the evening before, that clean mountain air, coupled with the sun twinkling through a million drops decorating the trees makes waking up a distinct pleasure, especially if you can find dry firewood and take the chill off.

The biggest favor rain ever did for me came when my son got married in Kentucky. The entire week before the wedding was marked by wet weather. We visited a state park in the rain, toured a whiskey distillery in the rain and watched horse racing in the rain. The wedding was supposed to take place in the bride’s parents’ vineyard, but the night before it looked as though it might have to take place under the tent erected for the reception. At the last minute, though, the rain stopped, and the ceremony was moved back outdoors, although not to the vineyard, which was pretty muddy. In the end nobody got wet, and the wedding was enjoyed by all.

The only hitch was that, for some reason, the photographer who was supposed to be there didn’t show up, and that job fell to me, who was still learning the quirks of digital photography. I took the pictures I could and my future son-in-law took those I had to pose for at my direction. Fortunately, the rain left a light haze, and the misty air that resulted in soft low-contrast lighting perfect for taking pictures. They turned out fine, and a few were really quite good.

Well, last weekend’s rain didn’t do anything so dramatic, but I enjoyed it, even though I mostly watched through the windows and listened to it on the roof. I’m hoping we’ll have days more like that this summer, especially if they come next after a few of those nasty hot days in July or August.

If they do, I’ll celebrate them, even if they spoil my picnic.

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