Rain is falling on the just and unjust alike here in Wichita, and has been for most of the month, with no end in sight on the forecasts. The nearby Arkansas River is already flowing over the adjacent bike paths, the Little Arkansas River is no longer little, and West Street is once again a third river in town. At this point we’re thinking of stocking up on gopher wood and reacquainting ourselves with the cubit system just in case an ark is required, and it is not helping our mood.
There’s the gloominess of the constantly gray sky, the disappointing chill of the late May nights, and of course the stir craziness that comes from being rained indoors through three weeks and a Memorial Day weekend. In our case the curse is exacerbated by our habit of reading the news, which lately is even worse than the weather. The Islamic State continues its sadistic romp across the Middle East, impeded occasionally by forces backed by Iran, whose leader was bragging to his national military academy’s graduating class that the deal they’re working out with the United States won’t allow any inspections of military sites or interviews with the scientists working on their nuclear weapons program, and more formidable powers such as China and Russia seem to have noticed that the Pax Americana is no longer operative. Over on the domestic front things seems just as gloomy, with the economy continuing to slug along on increasing debt and money-printing and interest rates that even the Federal Reserve Board is realizing must come up, the ongoing culture wars were best summed up by an excellent but depressing essay at National Review about how we traditionalists find ourselves “strangers in a strange land,” and even the sports pages offer nothing but the latest defeat in the New York Yankee’s prolonged slump.
Most infuriating are the latest rants of the global warming alarmists, who had promised us that the good days of the drought would last forever but are now trying to blame all this rain on us and our aging four-cylinder internal combustion automobile for causing “climate change.”
While we were homebound by the rain, and Iran’s Ayatollah was giving that nuclear pep talk to his nation’s most elite military academy, President Barack Obama was warning the graduates of the Coast Guard Academy that the greatest challenge of their career will be dealing with a changing climate. So far as we can tell the American military has been dealing with a changing climate throughout its history, with Redcoats and Spaniards and Prussian militarists and Nazis and Commies and lately Islamists proving thornier problems, and we’re not at all sure what the Coast Guard can do about our landlocked difficulties, much less the even worse situation occurring down in Texas and Oklahoma, and we’re quite sure that if human causes are to blame it’s probably more to do with the president’s jet than our aging automobile, so we can imagine that the graduating class gave the oration the same eye-rolling that we did. We’ve lived through enough prolonged droughts and incessant rains here on plains, and have read enough about the same phenomena in the journals of our pre-combustion engine forebears to know that they lived through their share as well, that we’re reluctant to accept that the weather is our nation’s most pressing problem. Given how bad the weather’s bad been, that is a depressing realization.
We’ll deal with all the wetness as best we can, and with gratitude that God and the Big Ditch and West Street will probably keep the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers away from our Riverside home and that the neighborhood’s basements don’t have the problem with leakiness as those snobs over in College Hill. Our collection of vinyl records and CDs includes such sustaining seasonal fare as Willie Nelson’s “Rainy Day Blues,” Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women,” Buddy Holly’s “Raining in My Heart,” The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm,” Lena Horne’s sultry rendition of “Stormy Weather,” and Esther Phillips’ inspiring recording of “I Can Stand a Little Rain,” among other rainy standards, and the latest reports suggest that our beloved Wichita Wingnuts might be able to get a home opener of the baseball season in today. After that it’s all chances of rain in the forecast, and big green and yellow and red blotches on the radar, so we should be able to cope with it, but even the inevitable summer sunshine won’t help with the rest of it.
— Bud Norman