Saturday, August 14, 2010


The masthead photo taken somewhere after 2006 shows a neat, tidy fall scene here in Kickapoo Center. Such is not the case this year. Weather is the topic of conversation wherever one goes. At the grocery store a clerk comments,"I turned the fan on in June and have never shut it off." Checking the weather map last evening, the area is under a tornado alert, a flood watch and a severe weather alert. The prospect of heavy rain during the night was a guaranteed 90%. Thankfully, the rain didn't happen.

I can't get my potatoes out. The senescent vines expose surface tubers which will turn green when the sun hits their skin. I don't see any russet vines. They are buried beneath weeds. The compost pile begun next to the silver maple stump is overgrown with eight foot tall weeds. Amazingly, an old gourd tossed on the heap sprouted. Now, the gourd vines travel over the tops of the spiky weeds. A second compost pile in the middle of the squash/pumpkin patch has disappeared under a jungle of heavy vines.

Frequent heavy rain continues. Yesterday, the morning started out pale at dawn light turning to gray black thunderclouds. At 8 AM I turn the kitchen lights on to be able to read at breakfast. I nab the cat before an impending black mass of clouds from the northeast with swirling puffs of misty clouds flowing beneath the treacherous looking mass hits us. The cat complains and heads for his cool basement bed on the laundry folding table. An hour and a half later the torrent subsides and Mandy and I jump in the car to get propane and caraway seed. In the interim I watch the downspouts for signs of clogged gutters.

On the Amish farm a new shed/carriage house is under construction. The entire family takes advantage of the break in rain to rake leaves and debris off the lawn while Dad and a hired Amish crew work under the newly completed green metal roof. A neighbor is grading one side of the earthen floor for the yet-to-be sided building. I ask about caraway seed and get puzzled looks. "You know rye bread, sauerkraut," I add. "Never heard of it," says the eldest daughter. I'm amazed.

Off to the southwest the gray,overcast sky turns black. I hope that it holds off as I drive to town to the propane dealer. Two miles down the highway, the sky opens up and unloads a torrent. When trucks pass, the windshield is flooded with wash and rain. I can't see a thing. I drop my speed to below 40 MPH. In the twenty minutes it takes to get to town the downpour trickles down to mist. Mandy is able to run the grassy strip outside the grocery store after I shop for caraway seed. On the return trip, Reads Creek on the right side of the US highway is a raging torrent. In the 2008 flood this 12 inch deep rocky creek washed away a culvert eight feet in diameter under a bridge at the sewing shop.

Later, when I check the rain gauge, I dump out four and one half inches of rainfall.

My lawn mower guy shows me three lawn tractor transmissions he's replaced because of wet, heavy grass. To the tune of $1000, I take this as a warning. Our old lawn mower with 500 hours will need coddling while the newer Husquavarna with the Kawasaki engine will sit in the shed until the last possible moment while I wait for the grass to dry. My days are filled with canning and freezing and a few stolen moments mowing 5 acres in short spurts. Mandy sits on the berm following my movements. The cat lies under the truck waiting for the noise to subside.
Bats swarm, swallows swoop low over the garden and the hummingbirds are bulking up for the flight south.

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