Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rain dance

It's raining!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. We're hurting for rain here in the Midwest. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (which is exactly what it sounds like), most of Iowa is classified as being in an exceptional drought. I like being called exceptional but this wasn't quite what I had in mind. We're about 10 inches below the normal rainfall for the year.

Over the last few months, we've moved from dry conditions, to moderate drought to severe drought to exceptional drought. I think the next stage is where we just dry up and blow away. Don't drop your cigarette around here. The whole state would go up in flames.

Which is really odd because thanks to some recent rains, things are green again. Sort of. If you don't look too closely. If you ignore the big cracks in the ground. And the fact the trees are already losing their leaves. And many farmers have already started chopping their corn fields to salvage what little they can from a stunted crop. And that you could probably walk across the Iowa River at any given point. And farm wells are going dry. And towns are starting to talk about water restrictions because municipal wells are starting to fail. Anyway, you get my point. The rain is welcome.

I've spent all summer trying to make it rain. I've gone to work and left house windows open. I've left car windows open. I've left laundry on the line. I've left the lid off the poop bucket (usually guaranteed for produce at least a 1" rainfall and bucket filled with poop soup.) A co-worker whose husband is in the masonry business even left his pickup, loaded with bags of concrete, parked outdoors, uncovered, overnight.

Nothing. We couldn't buy a rain cloud.

But not to worry! I have the guaranteed fix for the Drought of 2012.

I'm going camping! In my Big Blue tent!

In fact, earlier this month, I loaned Big Blue to the son of a co-worker and the first night he slept in it, torrential storms blew across the state, complete with high wind and heavy rain. Knowing this particular tent's history of pulling up stakes and collapsing in storms, I called his mom the next day, in a slight panic. She assured me that A) the tent was still standing and B) John had not been traumatized, mentally or physically, by having a tent fall on his head in a thunderstorm at 2 a.m.

Easy for her to say. That exact tent has gone belly up with me inside it several times over the last 10 years. One of those times was the first time the Farmer ever went camping with me. It was also the last time the Farmer ever went camping with me.

Apparently John's trick was to surround himself with big RVs. If I knew that many people with big RVs, I wouldn't be camping in a tent.

Nothing ever breaks on this tent. It will last forever. The rain fly, which does not go clear to the ground (a mark of a fair-weather tent if there ever was one) is the culprit. It catches incoming storm wind, then lifts like a balloon, popping the poles out of the four corners and effectively dropping the tent like a tablecloth over the inhabitants, who are having a minor (or major, if you're Jamie) freak-out inside.

Like the songwriter penned, "It's hard to leave when you can't find the door."

Big Blue comes with fond memories. Bolting out of it at 1 a.m. with a sheltie under each arm and Jamie in tow, glancing through the blinding rain to see my camping companion also abandoning ship as we dove into our vans for the rest of the night. Or bolting out of it at 2 a.m., me with Connor and the Farmer with Jamie, each of us with our pillows, diving into the van for the rest of the night. Good times.

In two weeks, the Belgians and I are going camping for the first time this year. I have Big Blue ready to go. I may need a sledge hammer to get the tent stakes in the ground but the simple act of putting up Big Blue should change the jet streams or the El Nino weather pattern or whatever is responsible for our lack of rainfall this year.

You can thank me later.


  1. I remember checking to make sure YOU were heading to your van too that night. That was quite a storm. My tent did NOT survive. LOL - I am looking forward to our little excursion in two weeks. HOWEVER, I will be sleeping in my van (don't want to get MY tent wet with all the rain that is sure to come). Note to self - pack rain gear for Des Moines! Can't wait!!!

  2. I hope you get some rain. It weird. This year we've had lots of rain. Every night, usually, the news talks about how we are -22 inches for rain fall for the year. Not this year, we are only -2 inches. Mushrooms are every where. Keeping my fingers crossed the tent works.