Published in the Rains County Leader on February 4, 2020:
Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this morning (Sunday), and that’s supposed to mean an early Spring. I guess he was right. It’s 79 and sunny in our part of the world this beautiful Groundhog’s Day. The boy next door is playing on his trampoline in shorts and no shirt, and the neighbors on the hill are having a great time racing each other around the circle on their four wheelers. And seven deer wandered across our back yard throughout the afternoon. I’m not sure what kind of goodies they were finding under the carpet of fallen leaves that escaped mulching when the lawn mower threw a crucial bolt, but they seemed to think whatever they were finding was quite tasty. I’m just glad they didn’t find the lone daffodil that is blooming in the front yard. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 13, 2020:
Strong storms covered Rains County with torrential rains accompanied by lots of thunder and lightning Friday night. The winds were not as strong as predicted, but the forecasts had many residents talking about the weather all week. At the Senior Center on Wednesday, I heard a woman at the table behind me ask if anyone had a storm cellar. Only one of her lunch companions had one, but she said that, in the nine years she had lived in her home, she had never been into the dark hole in the ground with its rotting, shutter-style doors. I wasn’t surprised that no one else had a cellar. The shallow Texas bedrock makes the cost of digging prohibitive. But the conversation brought back memories of my very early days in west Texas.
I was born in a tiny town about twenty miles west of Abilene called Merkel. We moved
A picture of Merkel’s downtown we took around 2002.
from there to Snyder, about fifty miles further west, just shy of my fourth birthday, so my memories of Merkel are limited. I’m sure some of them are things I’ve been told rather than things I actually remember. I know that we lived in a rented house behind Miss Johnnie’s house, our landlady, but I don’t remember much about her. I remember eating pinto beans at her house once – they needed salt. I remember learning to brush my teeth with tooth powder. And I remember the storm cellar. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on Tuesday, May 14, 2019:
Florida requires that, when developers put in new subdivisions, they leave a certain percentage of the land in its natural state. We were blessed to have a retention pond right behind our house and a screened-in porch – better known as a lanai by the natives – where we could sit and watch the wildlife. Some of the wildlife, like the alligators, was a little too wild, but the large variety of birds was fascinating.
One in particular caught my eye. It was a rather large black bird with a long neck. It would dive under the water and stay for a long time. Then it would surface and stretch its neck straight up so it could swallow whatever tasty bit of marine life it had snagged before disappearing into the water again. When its tummy was full, it would climb out of the water and sit on a log or rock where it would spread its wings and sit for a spell before flying away.
No one in our household of transplanted Texans could shed any light on this bird and its unusual habits, so I went to the Internet. I found a wildlife site that had a place for questions, and I described our visitor. I received a prompt reply that I was watching an Anhinga or Snakebird. The reason it spread its wings after a swim was that, unlike other aquatic birds, it didn’t have any oil on its feathers. It had to spread out in the sunshine so it could dry off enough to fly.
I have felt somewhat like a Snakebird lately, especially Wednesday of last week. It has been so wet this spring that everyone I know is checking their feet for webbing, and companies that make mildew removers are making a fortune. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on May 29, 2018:
According to USClimateData.com, the average high temperature in Emory for May is 80 degrees and for June is 87 degrees. Apparently someone didn’t get the memo, because weather.com says that we’ve already had nine days over 90 degrees in May this year, and in the next two weeks, the forecast is for six days of triple digit temperatures. The website’s weather calendars from last year show only one day when the thermometer reached that high level, and that was on July 28 when the mercury hit 101 degrees. If this year’s late spring is any indication, we’re in for a long, hot summer.
When it gets this hot, someone who is old enough to know the answer invariably asks, “How did we survive back in the days before air conditioning?” Then, the conversation turns to all the methods we used to beat the heat. David and I have been driving the older car this week, and the air coming out of the A/C vents was just barely cool. On Sunday he stopped at the auto supply where he left the car running so it would be cool for me while he ran in to get some Freon. It didn’t work. As the temperature began to rise, I thought about how we lived back in the olden days. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on May 2, 2017:
Thunderstorms had been predicted all day on Saturday, but every time we looked at the weather on our phones, the onset had been moved to a later time. Finally, as I was beginning preparations for dinner, the sky darkened enough that I turned on the kitchen lights. We no longer have network TV, so after the dinner dishes were done, David found a movie on his laptop, hooked it up to the TV, and we settled down to watch the latest Jack Reacher flick. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 17, 2017:
Sunday night, after the Dallas Cowboys closed out their 2016 season with a heart-stopping loss to the Green Bay Packers, David switched over to NBC so we could watch the Steelers and the Chiefs fight it out for the privilege of playing the Patriots next week. Along with the football game, we also watched weather reports – a lot of them! (more…)