Wet Dreams

Six inches of rain fell yesterday, and more is coming down right now. Boats at Piasa Harbor were upended, and folks who lived alongside Piasa Creek now live in the creek. Farmer Orville’s son Mike showed me a video he shot of Asian carp trying to swim up swollen streams above the Illinois River. My driveway was a robin’s bathtub.

The St. Louis Cardinals have set a record for rainouts in April, more than in the last decade. It’s not just rain; more and more land is covered over by concrete and asphalt, and rain which would have once been absorbed in earth now forms mini creeks, all running into sewers which run into streams which empty into the Illinois, Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

I used to visit Alton from Chicago. On one of those trips it rained every day for four days. I drove to a spot where I often found Indian artifacts, and I hunted in the rain. In no time, my knapsack was full of fossil slabs and flint. And then I spotted a treasure, a beautiful Woodland era arrowhead stuck in the sand on the opposite bank of a creek that was flooding. I know this creek, I thought. I can wade across the flashflood and retrieve that arrow point.

I stepped in the water. And instantly sunk over my head. And boated along, trying to stay calm, the weight of my knapsack holding me under water. I hadn’t drawn a breath, and wood debris – logs and broken branches – banged into my body. Just as I succumbed to my drowning fate, a huge log boated over me and I grabbed it and hauled my head out and gasped for air and thanked about a hundred saints.

I saw a barbed wire fence up ahead stretching across the creek, so I grabbed it, my hands bloodied and face scoured, the log sailing on downstream. I clung to the fence and hauled myself across the shore. There would be a tetanus shot in my future, and some lectures from friends. I never got hold of that arrowhead.

There is the romance of rain. “The rain is falling on the just an the unjust alike but if I had the management of such affairs I would rain softly and sweetly on the just, but if I caught a sample of the unjust outdoors I would drown him.” Mark Twain “Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” Langston Hughes “Some people feel the rain. Others get wet.” Bob Marley

How wet was it?

So wet, I handed out Saran Wrap raincoats for the songbirds; so wet that a family of possums begged to move in with me; so wet that earthworms were kayaking down the Sump Pump River; so wet I had to bleach my beard because of black mold; so wet that girls in yoga pants were covering their crotches with both hands.

It was so wet that bullfrogs built lean-tos to get out of the rain; so wet, my scalped squirrel had to make a campfire and heat his nuts; so wet, I caught a five-pound largemouth bass in my yard, so wet, a motor boat just whizzed past me on the highway; so wet Tina Turner rolled OUT of the river.

That’s how.

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