Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

Front Porch: On the rainy side, grass is greener

Thu., June 9, 2011

You know, I really didn’t mind the rain this spring. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it.

My friends are none too happy with me when I say as much, pointing out how seeds have rotted in the ground, how they’ve been delayed in planting tomatoes (possibly resulting in too short a growing season for said tomatoes), how the weeds have proliferated, how the bugs are rampant and how it’s been too awful out to go golfing, boating, bike riding or … well, pick your outdoor recreational activity of choice.

All I can say is, get over it. I have no sympathy.

Well, of course I don’t want any of the state’s agricultural industries to suffer, anyone’s home to flood or anything serious like that. But to have to sacrifice a prime tee time due to weather or get a little impatient about potting your petunias, c’mon.

This wet and cool spring has been dynamite for the region’s rhubarb. My lawn has never looked better. And have you seen the Spokane River rushing through downtown Spokane? There in the heart of Riverfront Park the falls are putting on a display of natural majesty and power that is surely the best show in town. OK, the melting of this winter’s ample snowpack has a lot to do with that, but that’s all about precipitation as well.

I grew up where it rained a lot – I mean seriously a lot – and with the kind of cloud bursts that render a car’s windshield wipers ineffective. It would be dangerous to keep driving but also dangerous to pull over on the highway, as another car seeking to do the same couldn’t see you until a second or two before it smacked right into your rear bumper.

Now this may sound like one of those kind of superior you-don’t-know-rain-until- you-know-Florida-rain stories (and it probably is), but we were once driving on the highway in a squall at the outer edge of a hurricane, in Alabama actually, absolutely unable to see anything. I thought I caught a glimmer of a neon sign off to the right, so with no idea of where an exit might be, we just took a chance and turned. We went down an embankment, through some shrubs and emerged – praise be! – in the parking lot of a motel.

We checked in, toweled off and made our way to the diner next door. A burly man approached us and asked if we were the people who had driven overland to get to the motel. Thinking a fight was about to ensue, we fessed up anyhow. The man broke into a smile, shook our hands and thanked us. Seems he was following what he could see of our tail lights down the highway and was going to go wherever we went – including over the river and through the woods, if that was how it was going to turn out – and was quite delighted to be safe and dry for the night.

Now if you’ve had that kind of rain experience, I’ll cut you some slack. Otherwise, I don’t think a drippy spring season qualifies.

As it is, we just can’t seem to make peace with the weather. If we’d had a hot and dry spring this year, we’d be moaning about high water bills to keep our lawns green, about early-season sunburns and about the kids already bored with playing outside and wanting in because it’s too hot out.

Now I’m not totally neutral on the weather, but my issue has to do with accurate information about one aspect of it – wind. I want it (wind, that is) and I want to know all about it – like exactly where and how much. My husband and I like to sail, so no wind, no go – that’s how it is on a sailboat.

It can be a lovely 10 to 15 knots in Spokane and in the doldrums on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Or an evening breeze promised by the weather folks for Idaho can never materialize, leaving one hopeful but nevertheless bobbing about like the proverbial fishing line float.

I know, I know, this meteorology thing is not an exact science, but I still want to know with some certitude what the wind gods have in store for a Saturday afternoon as we head to the lake. Not knowing for sure really bugs and often disappoints me.

What I do know for sure is that talk about the weather – like religion and politics – makes people mad. But all the talk, all the complaining really don’t matter. The weather’s going to be what it’s going to be.

And when it’s raining, just enjoy the rhubarb.

Stefanie Pettit can be reached by email at upwindsailor@comcast .net.

Click here to comment on this story »