I smelled rain Tuesday night for the first time in forever – or so it seemed at the time.
It was glorious. I hope that I smell and see and feel and hear more of it by the time Friday’s print edition of the Register hits the street.
I came here to Cooke County at the end of July and appear to have unwittingly brought near drought conditions with me, and I do apologize for that. I came here for the hot, dry climate (compared to Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and the other places I’ve lived), but this almost drought is starting to annoy me a bit.
It’s so dry that the county’s commissioners Monday discussed the possibility – however remote – of a countywide outside burn ban if we don’t get some rain soon. It rained the next day, as I noted above, and we are supposed to get more rain through this weekend.
That smell, however, got me to thinking about weather generally. I’m 53 and I check the weather forecast about a half-dozen times a day. When the temperatures were stuck in the low 100s in August, I checked it even more, in vain hopes of an update with a 20-degree temperature drop.
I know, I know – it’s a sign of getting old. I feel the weather more now because my arthritic back and joints are getting more arthritic. But I think it’s more than that.
The weather has intruded too much on my life. I sweltered in the summer as a kid because my dad didn’t like air conditioning … especially the higher light bills in June, July and August. Indianapolis in the summer is unrelentingly hot and muggy, with big storms blowing up out of nowhere. I remember riding out one of those storms, a really nasty one that was near hurricane strength, in a house trailer above German Park after Sacred Heart’s parish picnic when I was 11 or so. There were about 20 or 25 of us packed in there, so there was little chance of it blowing away. I don’t remember being afraid, but I do remember how happy I was when Dad gave us the all-clear to get in the car and go home.
The Blizzard of 1978 shut down Indianapolis for four days, and my mom, sister Emily and I were trapped by four- and five-foot drifts around our house. My dad walked a couple of miles, then hitchhiked the rest of the way, to work on the first day of the storm. He has a considerable work ethic, but I sometimes wonder if part of his trek had to do with a fear of being trapped in the house with nothing to do. Mom rewarded Emily and I with Twinkies and 16-ounce Cokes when she was finally able to get out to the store and bring back groceries. I remember the treats more than any privation we may have suffered that week.
I took a job in northern Michigan about 15 years ago. I went for the interview in early fall, when the climate was cool, but not too cool, and Cheboygan County at that time of year is irresistibly beautiful. I said “Yes” immediately and got moved up there in time for Halloween. They let out the kids from school at lunchtime to trick-or-treat because the sun sets in the late afternoon by then. By Thanksgiving, there was 10 inches of snow on the ground and we got maybe six or seven good hours of the sun every day. The snow kept coming and the temperatures plunged, as they do in Indiana sometimes; however, single digits came for Christmas and stayed until Valentine’s Day in northern Michigan, along with way, way more snow. My publisher Gary Lamberg was almost apologetic – almost – telling me daily that, “It never snows like this here in Cheboygan,” usually with a wry smile.
About five years after that, I found myself in the Upstate of South Carolina. I lived in the southern Appalachian foothills, which is also gorgeous country. I had a pretty good reporting job, a great girlfriend and a houseful of cats (I like dogs a little better, but cats are okay by me). I covered local and state politics, Clemson University (no, not the football team, but I did interview Dabo a couple of times) and the environment – all interesting stuff. Bassmaster staged a tourney in late February on Lake Hartwell, which is terrific for smallmouth fishing. I’m not an angler myself, but I do enjoy relaxing quietly on boats and drinking beer while others cast their lines. I wound up covering the opening launch of the coldest BASSMasters event on record – 10 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT AT 6 A.M. Drain plugs froze, outboards took forever to fire up and all of the competitors (and a couple of the journalists) cussed the rotten weather under their ski masks.
So, what’s my point in all of this? I guess it’s that you people need to make sure we don’t get hammered this winter! I heard about the winter stormageddon earlier this year and I have no desire to ride out something like that.
I’ve done my time and I deserve an uneventful winter … and spring and summer and fall.
Mike Eads is the Editor of the Gainesville Daily Register. He is a veteran journalist, whose three decades of work have taken him from his native Indiana to West Virginia, Michigan, South Carolina and Alabama before taking up his present post this past summer.