Rain or shine, this is the life we chose

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We’ve been in the middle of a heat wave out here for the last couple weeks, and it’s not looking to cool off or rain anytime soon. After a long, really snowy winter, I thought we might continue the moisture trend throughout the rest of the year, but it turns out that was just a hope.

We haven’t had a good rain for months and months and we’re better off than most of the state. Fire danger is high, and there’s one raging in the badlands as I type. It worries me. It worries everyone. That’s one thing we all have in common up here in the north. We all know worrying about the weather.

Last weekend we took a quick trip to the other side of the big lake to meet up with my inlaws who were camping there. While we were leaving a little storm cell blew through, darkening the sky and soaking the ground. We never drove in the rain, but we were in its aftermath on the way home. I rolled my windows down and breathed it in.

There’s nothing like the smell of rain on a hot summer day.

It’s heaven.

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It’s hard to believe when I’m sitting here in as little clothes as a pregnant woman can get away with in the summertime, that it was ever thirty below zero and completely white out here. We live in such extremes.

And that’s what this week’s column is about. It’s a little different take on the summer and the weather and just how crazy we really are when it comes to packing as much fun and work as we can in our three months of what we envision as being a California-esque summer.

Which it never is. No matter how we grit our teeth and bare it.

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Rain or Shine, this is the life we chose

“Well, I guess this is the life I chose,” he said as he pulled on his boots and headed out the door. “Work all day in 100 degrees so I can come home and work all night in it.”

Yup. That’s the story out here on the ranch where we can’t quit our day jobs. And on evenings when the wind settles down and the sun sets just right on cows grazing on green grass in their proper places, it feels pretty dang good.

But then there are days like today where you wonder if you might be able to fry an egg on the back of those black cows and the tractor won’t start and you just roll up your sleeves, wipe the sweat, crawl back under the tractor and hope to hell in those 10 minutes of scratching your head that you’ve magically developed the necessary mechanic skills and do what you gotta do.

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Rain or shine. That’s what they say. Whoever coined that phrase obviously didn’t live in North Dakota. If they did they would’ve likely added a few more elements – like hail – or 50 mile-per-hour winds – or blinding, sub-zero blizzards. I get that about this place. And I get that about the work.

But what’s been amusing me lately is the fact that up here we seem to apply the same motto to the idea of fun. Because it’s summer here, and dang it, we’re gonna stand in the street with a beer and listen to this band regardless of the fact that it’s 40 degrees and sleeting. It’s JUNE! We only have three months to fit in all of our outdoor activities, people!

Just a few weeks ago, I went to my niece’s softball game where we all wore gloves and beanies and sat in lawn chairs under blankets while we watched the cold wind whip these poor children to a misery, and I couldn’t help but wonder at what point we stop referring to this as a fun and games.

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Don’t even get me started on the memories I have of monsoon rain turning high school rodeo arenas into soup while our mothers sat steadfast, writing scores on soggy programs shielded from the brutal weather only by visors and the slicker that’s been sitting at the bottom of the horse trailer since last year’s rodeo in Elgin.

Oh, I come by this observation honestly. As a musician who’s spends her summers singing on flatbed trailers in my home state in the name of a festival, I’ve feel I’ve been with you through it all. But nothing sums up the insanity of our people better than the view I had from the stage on the capitol grounds on the 125th birthday of our great state a few years back. As the rain shot sideways into my eyeballs, I sang Red River Valley to a crowd of diehard North Dakota neighbors as they swayed back and forth under umbrellas and makeshift newspaper hats and I wondered if this is how I might go out, electrocuted by my soaking microphone – because 100 degrees or pouring rain, this is the life we chose.

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3 thoughts on “Rain or shine, this is the life we chose

  1. You work hard, play hard and enjoy the life you chose. And if you look hard enough you’ll see that compared to many places, North Dakota is a dang good place to live. Twenty- four years ago I moved to another state (because of marriage) after living and working in Jamestown for 27 years. When I would get phone calls from “out-of-staters” who would say “You CHOOSE to live in ND”!!! I would tell them the that air is clear, the people friendly, and the cold keeps the “riff-raff” out”! (This was before your oil boom.)

  2. The weather is nice here in Western Washington (mid-70s), but we haven’t had rain in weeks, and brush fires are popping up everywhere (not to mention the fireworks caused ones last week). What worries me is the bigger fires all over Eastern Washington (where I’m from), and their 100 degree temps threatening my friends and family. I know exactly what you are talking about…sometimes people and things pay the price for that beautiful summer weather. I would love one day of your rainy summer storm to come through (without any lightening, please!).

  3. Mother nature is crazy. Rain..no rain. You just appreciate every cycle. My crazy thing lately is baby toads. They cant hit a 1/8 inch!!!! I cant move without making sure im not killing one.
    I had to tell the kids, farm kids, protect them for their little toad lives are important. NO WARTS.
    Landon who is twelve years old but drove up to our place looking through the streering wheel of an old diesel four on the floor truck had to learn with sis Emerson in her two piece and no shoes. Toads are cool and we have Teeny Tiny Toad the mother of them all. She is an amazing toad.
    Been hear for years.
    The kids love the farm. And my stories and yours. And eenie weenie toads. XOXO Minnesota

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