Saturday, July 12, 2014

Welcome to the West's wet years

This is one of those wet years that our great-grandfathers told us about. You know, "rain follows the plow" so why not plow up 320 acres of high plains prairie and just sit back and watch the heavens unleash its nourishing rain.

It's foggy when I awake this morning. Cool. Dew on the grass and on the car window. Reminds me of a central Florida July morning. Air so filled with moisture it's like walking through a cloud. Can still smell last night's rain. My plants, shredded in a June hailstorm, are roaring back. They're sucking in that moisture like there's no tomorrow because there may not be.

One-hundred years ago, settlers to the semi-arid West found awoke to similar mornings. "Dang, ol' Charles Dana Wilber sure was right about rain following the plow. Bumper crop this year!

And maybe the following year and the one after that. But, inevitably, nature's reality came calling in the form of the Dirty Thirties. The episode was beautifully told by Jonathan Raban in his book, Bad Land: An American Romance. Abandoned farms and ranches can still be found throughout the eastern expanses of MT, WY and CO. Ruined dreams live on in bitter memories that link giant corporations (railroads) and government with broken promises.

WY Gov. Matt Mead recently used the old excuse in blocking Medicaid expansion. We can't trust the federal government to pick up its share of the bill. Can't trust the gubment! Scientists say that global warming will increase the severity of droughts and of seasonal storms -- more blizzards and worse droughts. But 100 years ago, didn't scientists say that rain would follow the plow? Climatologists and meteorologists did say that very thing. So why should we trust them now?

History's a bitch. In 1914, German and Brit and French 18-year-olds were told that honor required them to confront barbed wire and poison gas and machine guns. Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori. The lost generation -- literally and metaphorically. My generation is still haunted by Vietnam. Our government wanted to kill us all pursuing a doomed policy. The "big lie" lived on during the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

How do you overcome perceptions lodged in our DNA?

Meanwhile, the rain falls and the fog rolls in. That semi-arid prairie is as green as the Irish countryside.

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