Cousin ("Cudd’n” to us) Luther Cobb was a perpetually irascible and disgruntled sort, known to complain in wet weather that the rabbits were “miring up in the woods” and in dry weather that his children would “never see rain again.” Well, wherever you are, Cudd’n Luther—and I definitely have my suspicions that it’s a pretty dry place—there have been no reports of rabbits sporting muddy feet, much less miring up, anywhere in these parts for a mighty long time. As for the children, they have just about stopped asking their parents what this “rain” stuff they keep talking about actually is.
It's gotten so bad here in Athens that not only is all outdoor watering banned but they’re not even watering the sacred turf of Sanford Stadium, much to the dismay of some of the boys over on the Dawgvent who think UGA should be able to do whatever it damn well pleases because it brings so much $$$ into Clarke County. I reckon they haven’t pondered the prospect offootball games being canceled because someone has his priorities all screwed up and thinks that it’s more important to have enough water to keep the hospitals and schools open than to dedicate it to flushing away all the recycled Bud Lite that hits the local sewer system on game day.
Even this crowd doesn’t seem as removed from reality as the folks over at Stone Mountain who cooked up this plan to make snow—you heard me right—for thirty days to the tune of about a gazillion gallons of DeKalb County water per day so that visitors to the park could experience some frosty frolicking even with temperatures still in the 80s. A huge public outcry has temporarily aborted this artificial blizzard, and it’s a good thing, too, for the ol’ Bloviator was fully prepared to fill his tank to the brim with some of the aforementioned Bud Lite and (after the fashion of the old joke about Pat Nixon and Henry Kissinger collaborating to produce some crude graffiti about Pat’s husband) make a statement about the snow, directly on the snow. In case you still don’t get it and the folks at Stone Mountain decide to pursue this fool idea and your kids want to go see it, just remember the old Eskimo maxim: “Don’t eat the yellow snow.”
There is a serious lesson here, of course, about the absolute necessities of life that most folks simply assume will always be available in inexhaustible quantities. In a way, I think growing up as a sure enough country boy has at least made this water crisis a little less traumatic for me. When I was a kid our water came from a hand-dug well that I’m sure was no more than 30 feet deep. I know this because every so often the water would run out and we’d have to get somebody to come and dig the well out for us. (I’m not one to dispute folk wisdom, but, for the record, I don’t recall this fellow ever complaining about his rear end being cold.) Saturday night baths—and barring special occasions, that’s exactly when my daddy and I took 'em—consisted of a couple of inches of water in an old galvanized wash tub. Needless to say, the governor’s call for shorter showers doesn’t impress me very much because I’m sure I set some world bathing records on those crisp winter nights on the back porch. Beyond that, we always saved both our bathwater and the water from my Mama’s old wringer washer. My daddy thought washing a car was a waste of time as well as water; so on those rare occasions when I actually had a date, I was sometimes reduced simply to wiping as much of the mud and dust off the old love-mobile as I could. Finally, since we didn’t get around to indoor plumbing until I was a teenager, the idea of allowing “yellow” to “mellow” doesn’t make me all that squeamish.
Back in those days, of course, a long dry spell would lead to jokes that we weren’t paying the preacher enough—which was true, wet or dry—and on Sundays we’d belt out the unofficial dry weather anthem of all good Southern Baptists:
There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!
Given the severity of current conditions, I’m inclined to amend the foregoing lyrics to reflect the sentiments of the old G.I. who ended his prayer for God’s help with “. . . and God, please come yourself. Don’t send Jesus. This is no job for a boy.” Back in the old days, of course, getting the rain we needed was not a matter of “if” but “when,” so long as we simply did what the Bible taught:
There shall be showers of blessing,
If we but trust and obey;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
If we let God have His way.
That song was great comfort to my family and our hardscrabble farm neighbors, but when I look at the environmental crisis we’re facing now, not just locally but globally as well, I have to question whether “God’s way” actually included more subdivisions with bigger houses than we could ever afford or even inhabit, more coal-fired power plants to electrify them, and more big, inefficient, environmentally unfriendly vehicles to get us to and from all the places that we suddenly needed to go. I realize that helping people get out of the messes they make for themselves is a major component of God’s job description, but my sense of His m.o. is that if we expect Him to get involved, He’ll expect us to do a little more than just whine and complain like old Cudd’n Luther always did.