By Joe Rector


At some point in January, the local weather forecaster on one station declared that Tennessee was experiencing a drought. I hope that after the last month he will now declare we’re caught up on the needed rainfall. Downpours have made yards soggy and floors muddy. Most of us are over it and ready for at least a little dry spell.

When we were children, the rain rarely proved to be a bad thing. We found indoor activities to keep us occupied. Jim and I would flop on the floors and play cars for a while. That activity was followed by attempts to build cabins with Lincoln logs. We’d spend long periods of time trying to construct things, but those attempts always ended in frustration. One reason for the bad feelings was that we just didn’t have the natural talents to put together what was in our minds with what lay before us on the floor. Another cause for consternation was the discovery that vital pieces of logs were missing. We always assumed that someone had stolen the things without considering the possibility that our own failure to pick up the toys and put them back in the can led to their disappearance.

In warmer weather, we took up residence on the front porch. Our arms were filled with toys, and we also had our guns. Those items ensured we’d have plenty to do. When the toys bored us, we took up six shooters and played cowboys. As “Hank” or “Tex” or “Bart,” we took cover behind columns and mowed down outlaws or Indians. Each shot was accompanied by sound effects to imitate the firing of the guns.

In summer, a steady rain offered cooling relief from the heat. No air conditioning was available in our house, so playing in the rain substituted for it. Jim and I often found a mud hole. We scooped the stuff up in our hands and then patted it out on the grass. Before long, we had a dozen of the things laid out, and we’d pretend they were pies or cookies but never sampled any of our own creations. Before long, that game bored us, and those mud patties turned into mud balls. We hurled them at imaginary enemies or separated and threw at each other.

The rain wasn’t always welcome. Summer swimming meant trips to Concord Pool. The trip was planned several days in advance, and because adventures like this were infrequent, we stayed all day. Picnic baskets were gathered, and we boys readied our swimsuits and any toys or water masks that we might need. If rain wiped out our trip, bottom lips hung low with pouts and moods were less than merry.

The same ill attitudes occurred when our baseball games were rained out. Mr. Wright hauled all of us to the old ball fields beside Karns Elementary School for contests. I visualized my catching fly balls or smashing a homer and rounding the bases, both things that were mere pipedreams. A sudden shower would steal my delusions of heroic performances and leave me having to wait until the next week.

I don’t mind some rain. In fact, sitting on the screened porch and reading a book is especially nice on some sweltering summer days. However, I still pout like a six-year-old when precipitation pre-empts my plans for mowing the yard or swimming in our pool. Yes, I know that it’s somewhat ironic for rain to postpone an activity that includes dunking my body in water, but keeping towels and books and snacks dry is impossible in a downpour. No one ever wants to experience a drought, and I’m thankful for the rain; it’s just that too much of it at one time drowns plans and spirits.