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by Kent Fletcher

Man, this is a day made for rejoicing, for running outside (if I could run) between the drops falling from the sky or just letting them all hit.

North Central Texas, where I have my current abode, has been dry, severely dry for so long the trees are hanging out welcome signs for dogs in the neighborhood. I have an old concrete birdbath in the front yard I refill at least once a week for the neighborhood birds and cats. Hopefully my birdbath is running over at the moment.

I've read a lot about water catchment systems in the last several weeks. I was in the community just east a couple of weeks ago and saw an old man, an ancient man, unloading plastic food barrels from his truck, and I thought, "Ah, just what the order doctored!" But being toward the end of the month, I told him I would return when I had some loose change to buy a couple of them. The ground around here is so hard, so cracked, that the rain that falls in torrents doesn't have the time to soak in but runs off in waves. I shoulda, I coulda, I woulda if'n I'd'a had the loose change.

The streets are probably slicker than pig snot, and as I can see I-35W from my front windows, it appears the travelers aren't too concerned about the rain. Hauling butt to wherever, it was days like this that brought dread and loathing to me when my family ran an ambulance service way back in the good old days. Seems like some folks are just so stupid to think their brand spanking new Michelins or Firestones or Goodyears won't hydroplane on hard, wet surfaces.

Well, let me tell you this: I found out the hard way that brand spanking new tires, regardless of brand, regardless of new rubber or retreads, will NOT track on water but rather surf, and it's difficult at best to aim something like a 1,500 pound car when surfing on water after screaming down the highway at 60 or better.

This thrill ride happened on a return trip from Greenwood, Mississippi, to Cleveland, Mississippi, via a state highway running through a farming community named Schlater. To make a long story short, suffice it to say I was hauling butt coming out of Schlater with brand new retreads from a farm place in Greenwood, hit a stretch of road where the middle of the road had sunk, thereby creating a mini-lake, got passed by an 18-wheeler going the other direction, and there was a fierce wind out of the south (I was going west). So it was off into the wild green yonder, heading straight for that telephone pole.

God was my co-pilot that day, 'cause the passenger I had could only think quickly enough to grab the CB radio. The front tires broke the surface tension (?) just in time to pull us to the right of the pole and make a glorious rooster-tail run to the middle of the cotton field. We stopped finally, the engine was still running, and the tailpipe was making funny blurb-blurb noises at the rear of the car. A farmer on the highway had seen the whole event, and he yelled out to me, standing knee-deep in the water, "You could have made it to the road over there, if'n you'da just kept the gas on!"

One of his tractor drivers pulled me out with a logging chain.

So while I do love waking to a solid rain falling on the roof, no thunder, I do slow down while driving in rain, or snow, or ice. And I shoulda stayed in bed for a while longer, soaking up the pleasant sounds like the earth which also welcomes it. But nature called, and too I wanted to jot this down . . .


Kent Fletcher, native Mississippian and retired military, now lives in Texas.
Contact Kent at this e-mail address.

Read more of Kent’s “meanderings”:

Hotrods and high school
Raisin’ Delta cain
Roguing beans and a ‘39 Plymouth
Ghosts of Christmas Past

Want to leave a comment on Kent’s story?
Please write Ye Editor at bethjacks@hotmail.com.


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