Posted by: justawriter | April 7, 2010

Far Afield – Time to count our blessings

I took a little ribbing with last week’s front page headline canceling the flood, but in the end it turned out all right because the National Weather Service’s initial forecast turned out to be the most accurate. Despite an ugly few days of rain and snow, once the Knife River started falling, it continued to fall.
I freely admit I got lucky on that one. I think it is usually the case that luck is what separates a prophet from a nut.
So I count the river doing what the experts said it was going to do (at least once) as a blessing. I think this spring is bringing lots of blessings this year. I’ve heard that word a lot lately. Even in poor circumstances, this year people are thinking, well, it could be worse.
Just today I ran out to get pictures of a hay fire south of Golden Valley. The owner said that if it had to happen, at least it happened this year when there was plenty of hay. The same fire last year would have been a disaster for him. There is enough moisture this spring that we have a good start on another hay crop as well.
Even though we had plenty of winter to complain about, we had an almost ideal month of March. The beginning of the month saw most of the valley’s residents on pins and needles. But we missed our usual inch of precipitation and the temperatures slowed the melt to a month-long trickle. Experienced river watchers said they’ve never seen a month of March like this since they have been keeping records.
Even the last storm that passed through on Easter weekend wound up freezing things up after a two-day warm spell looked to open up the countryside and let all the water pour through. That prompted a drop in the river level that amounted to 10 feet by Monday afternoon. So even if it did make my drive back to my hometown miserable, it wound up being a good thing for the area.
The cattlemen around the country are just loving the weather as well. One rancher I talked to described this year’s calving season as “fun,” especially when compared to the misery of last year. There’s nothing like a dry pasture, plentiful feed, sunshine and above freezing temperatures for a fat and healthy calf crop.
All the events that were held up, canceled or compromised last year are coming off without a hitch.
Farmers are chomping at the bit to get out into the fields. The fields are still a bit muddy I think, but I think most farmers would trade a few extra days for plentiful soil moisture.
We’re still in the first full week of April, so we still have plenty of frosty nights before we can put the tomatoes out. But that doesn’t mean garden planning and preparation can’t be in full swing. There’s nothing quite so restful and relaxing as being out in the yard getting my fingers dirty coaxing rampant growth from the soil. I’ve got seed catalogs dancing in my head, just waiting for the sign that we’ve probably seen our last hard freeze.
I think we can even look at the threat of the flood as another blessing. The history in Beulah seems to be that we have a lot of concern and activity after every flood. But because historically, there has been 10 or 12 years or more between floods, the plans and precautions get shelved and people become complacent. This year’s threat is a good reminder that if we want to seek permanent solutions to Beulah’s flooding problem, we have to take advantage of the time between floods to get things done. Once the water is roaring down the river, it is too late to start.
It’s also a blessing that we saw that neighbors are willing to help neighbors when things look their worst. When the call went out for sandbags, the people of Beulah came out and filled more than twice as many bags as needed. A few of you even headed over to Zap and helped out their flood fighting effort. The Army Corps of Engineers also stepped in and offered assistance. Zap took their help while Beulah didn’t, but at least we had the choice.
So, as we head into a promising spring, no matter what our personal cares, maybe we should take the advice written by Cole Porter and sung by Bing Crosby:
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep,
I count my blessing instead of sheep.
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.

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