Well, that was entertaining… this morning, I finished toasting my blueberry bagel and slathered it with cream cheese – a nice, not particularly healthy breakfast, but sometimes you make due. I carried the plate into my office, set it on top of a book, and turned to pick up a towel that would serve as a very large napkin. I would estimate the time used to pick up the towel was perhaps 1.5 seconds. As my back was turned away from the desk, I heard a “flop” sound, and as I quickly turned around, I saw that my plate with two halves of a bagel has slipped off the book, and managed to flip upside down on the carpet, with both parts of the cream-cheese bagel creating a figure eight on the carpet itself.
Now – I’m a guy, so I’m still going to eat it. The intriguing part, of course, is as I bite into the bagels, will I also bite into what has not been vacuumed from the carpet since Saturday? It’s all part of that intriguing experience of life. If Clint Eastwood would have been in the room, I’m pretty sure I would have heard, “So – do you feel lucky, Punk?”
Well, those of you who are regular readers of course noticed that I once again missed writing the column yesterday. I apologize, but our family has moved into a different pattern of activity, given Cheri’s mom’s terminal cancer. She got home from the hospital Monday evening, and since I am on the “retired” team, I was available to head back up to Grafton yesterday to just keep her company, have lunch together, and make sure her transition back home was workable. I thought it might be a bit rude to take my laptop with me, and sit at the table writing, while she just – sat. It was a nice visit, but three four-hour round trips in six days left me with very little gas in the tank, literally and figuratively, after I got home last night. I think I should be around in the days to come, unless, of course, something else comes up…
So – it’s been hot up here in Fargo. They reported that the normal average high this past week should have been right around 76 degrees. At 7:30 this morning, it is already 75 outside. For this first week of June, we have consistently had temps over 90 degrees, with a couple of days hitting over 100, which we haven’t experienced in ten years. It’s been hot, and we have also not been able to squeeze out a single drop of rain, which is the pits for our yard, as I’ve mentioned, but it can also become disastrous for the tens of thousands of newly planted fields here in the valley, that now are supposed to start growing. No rain, no crop.
Now, I have always watched the weather, and tried to track changes that might occur. I noticed especially since April, when we are supposed to have all those showers to bring May flowers? – that the rain clouds that did emerge from the west or southwest, which is where our weather comes from this season, would march toward us with great meteorological determination, only to, at the last moment, split in two, giving great rains to our north and south, and snickering at us while we sat in dry hot sunshine.
Imagine our excitement, then, when Monday we were handed the forecast of a 70% chance of thunderstorms and rain! Granted, the old split could happen again, but the system looked pretty wide as it came toward us, so we were given hope for a change. The final forecast moved from an inch and a half at 8pm, to a half inch at 2am, but rain is still rain, right?
We went to bed, turned off the lights, and then, in the distance, we heard the sound of thunder. Actually, at about 11pm, we then began to see the flash of lightning, followed quickly by cracks and booms. The storm was coming. Pretty soon, we heard the wind rise up, and then actually the rain started pounding on our windows, adding to the thunderstorm symphony. It was really a beautiful sound, coming for the first time since the snow had vacated the area. I just laid there for a while enjoying it.
Unfortunately, we are not alone in our home. We also serve as the waitstaff for our three cats. Each of them approaches storms with a different reaction as you might guess. Our “BOC” (big orange cat) named Phoenix is best described as a wee-bit-slow in the cognitive arena. She doesn’t worry about vacuums running, or doors accidentally slamming. Some might call her brave, while others, more informed, might just call her a bit dense. When the thunder and lightning began their concert, she didn’t even lift her head.
Hermes, our tawny colored cat, is brave, but a bit cautious. I watched him in the minimal light, and he would walk around while it was raining outside, but when a bit boomer would hit close by, he would hit the ground, like a soldier in a mortar attack – flat on his stomach, and then after the explosion, he’d get up and walk around a bit, until the next volley, when once again, his chin was on the carpet.
Finally, there is Thor. So inappropriately named after the god of thunder, Thor is the dictionary example of a “fraidy-cat.” I’ve never seen a cat run quite as quickly as this Siamese could fly under the bed, under the chair, into the closet, or wherever there would be protection from the sky that was falling, for sure. It had been so long since our last thunderstorm that I had sort of forgotten how serious it is for the little guy. At one point in the storm, he just came stomping out of the closet, possibly cussing in cat language over the situation, as if to be saying, “Really? When is this going to end?!” I reached down, picked him up and put him on my lap, which was fine until the next explosion, when he vaulted, and half-flew back into the closet…
About an hour or so later, then storm moved over into Minnesota, and things grew calm again. When I checked my weather station the next morning, it proclaimed that we actually received .93” of rain, no hail, and lots of nitrogen through lightning bolts.
Now, you might think that kind of rainstorm would also usher in a cooler couple of days. You would be wrong. We are back up to the heat that sometimes comes in August, when you are at the point of almost thinking that the old flowers in the pots have done their best, and it’s time to let them fry up. But you can’t do that in June, so in another day, we will be back out watering – unless of course, we get another great storm – or even just a quarter inch of rain? At least we know it can rain now, and that gives us hope for the coming days. Maybe it’ll cool off by July.
One of the things we can count on when it comes to weather, is that it is a far different enterprise than almost anything else we “plan” for. Buying a car, washing windows, grilling a steak – all of these are things we pretty well can plan for, and live out with a pretty good level of control. Weather of course, is weather, and nothing we can intentionally do to change it. Our best hope, like a good many other things, which even stretch to loved ones in terminal health situations, is to live the days we have, enjoying one another, and doing what we can to make our world more loving and hopeful – even while we wait for the rain.
Word for the day: williwaw. Pronounced WILL-ee-waw. It’s not a word that has classical roots to it. It’s actually closer to a nautical term, and most of those arose out of colloquial sayings from ships. When the wind whips down at pretty high speed from a mountainside or a mountain top to the ocean, a ship indeed might be caught in a “williwaw” – a violent gust of cold wind. If you aren’t ready for it, it can tear the ship up. Most often, the williwaw shows itself either in the Straight of Magellan, at the southern tip of Chile, where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet, or up in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Both geographical areas are noted by tall mountains jutting down to the ocean – almost a perfect spot for a williwaw to raise its head…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.