Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Big Red

In the Midwest we talk about the weather. A lot. It's ingrained in the agricultural base of our existence even if most of us have little to do with it anymore. We experience the extremes. It's not uncommon in the fall to experience a 70-degree day and wake up to 4 inches of snow the next. Let's just say we make the Weather Channel quite often.

Last week it rained several inches. And now the Red River of the North is again above flood stage. It's not at its mammoth 40-plus feet of earlier this year when the city shut down and major evacuations took place. This time forecasters say it will reach a mere 24 feet Wednesday (6 above flood stage) and slowly go back down, tapering into a cold, cruel hibernation for the winter.

Each spring, and now this fall, we watch the Red River take a giant breath. It's belly puffed out as it moves through our towns. The city tries to contain it, but it spills over north and south into the smaller communities. The Red reminds of of what nature can do.

In the spring, we are hopeful about the summer to come. After all, we just survived another killer winter in North Dakota. The Red swells and Mother Nature says, "Don't forget what I can do. See you next year."

We forget over the summer what a -50 degree windchill feels like. We get complacent as the snow tires come off and we can again drive at regular speed limits. In July and August, the wind is hot and muggy most days. In January it threatens to rip your face off. But we forget.

Then our summer quickly turns to fall. It's just a short fade into winter — usually just weeks. The Red swells and Mother Nature says, "You didn't forget, did you? Here I come again."

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