The mother of all rain cheques

Up here in the Peace Country we have had three drought years in a row. The fire pit we bought in 2009 has never had a fire in it.

Up here in the Peace Country we have had three drought years in a row. The fire pit we bought in 2009 has never had a fire in it.

Within days of the snow melting, fire bans would fall into place and stay there until the end of summer. The ground was so dry it was crispy. As I walked across the farmyard it felt like grass spears were snapping off beneath my feet. They probably were.

Clouds of grasshoppers rose around with me with every step. We forgot all about mosquitoes. The lawn only needed mowing half a dozen times the entire season. Lakes, ponds, rivers and dugouts shrank into puddles.

The sound of rain became a distant memory. One hot afternoon we even trudged across the Kiskatinaw River in our gumboots. Yes sir, things up here were drier than a popcorn fart.

As farmers watched their crops shrivel and their livestock water sources dry up more than a few sent up a prayer or two for rain. Even if you weren’t the praying kind or even if you weren’t a farmer I don’t think there was a single person who didn’t say at least once, “Please, let it rain.”

Well, the prayers have finally been answered. And how! It’s almost like the angel in charge of prayer requests for our area was away on a three-year vacation. On the evening of June 23 he returned to find his inbox inundated with rain requests and answered them all at once.

You could say we just received the mother of all rain cheques. The heavens opened up and for 48 hours all the water that had been withheld for three long years fell to the ground. One hundred and fourteen millimetres later one person I talked to said, “I know we asked for a lot of rain over the past three years, but this is ridiculous.”

It wasn’t a two-day slow, steady, drizzle kind of rain either. The ones that farmers refer to as a “million dollar rain.” Those are the sort that give crops a long slow drink and help ensure a bumper crop.

Instead we got rain that came down in unrelenting sheets ricocheting off rooftops, filling culverts, storm drains and basements to overflowing and washing out everything in its path. I guess it was a million-dollar rain. It just showed up on the wrong side of the ledger.

Instead of a million-dollar crop it caused millions of dollars in damage. The Pine pass is still closed, effectively shutting northern B.C. off from the rest of the province. They figure it will stay that way for at least two weeks.

Less noteworthy, the rains washed out our own little road sending an enormous culvert scuttling down the creek. As a result our thoroughfare has returned to the peaceful forgotten path it was before all the oil activity began.

I had almost forgotten how quiet things could be. This also means the man who has been stopping at the end of our driveway to baa at our sheep has been forced to take a different route, so the sheep are enjoying some peace and quiet as well. I guess there is a silver lining to every cloud — even crazy destructive heavy black rain clouds.

And I won’t need to water my garden for a while. Speaking of which, when the rains finally subsided I went down to the vegetable garden and there was my entire row of asparagus up to their necks in water having a look around.

It was the most bizarre thing. A couple columns ago I was sure all but one had perished over the winter. I had even gone so far as to start a new bed of asparagus — but no matter. Unlike zucchini or rain, a person can never have too much asparagus. Apparently to revive a dead bed of asparagus all you need to do is add four inches of water all at once.

Today our wide skies were filled with nothing but blue and the winds licked the landscape clean.

Things will dry up, culverts and bridges will be replaced and this too shall pass. When the winds died down we went outside and finally lit a fire in our new/old pit and watched the sparks fly.

“What will we complain about now that the drought is over?” I asked Darcy.

And that’s when the first mosquito landed on my arm.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from Northern BC. You can catch up on past columns by visiting her at www.shannonmckinnon.com.

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