Soooooo dry

Mike Lear, one of the new reporters for Missourinet, talked to state climatologist Pat Guinan the other day about July. Sixth hottest July on record, said Guinan. Hottest one since 1980. And August feels a lot like July in major parts of Missouri—and the nation, we hear.

Mike’s report brings a recollection of a song by a friend of ours who wrote about the Missouri summer of 1980. Bob Dyer was a Boonville folk singer, film producer, teacher, and a lot of other things. He died about four years ago and many people miss him a whole lot. In 1982, Bob wrote a song about that scorching summer of 1980, “The Dry Waltz.” You can probably find his recording of the song on various internet locations or on CDs.

It’s a song of heat and haze, of dust and fading love, and hanging in there until more pleasant days arrive.

All the fields are turning brown;
There ain’t no rain been falling down.
It’s the driest that it’s been
Around here in years.
Sometimes I just can’t carry on;
Sometimes the faith and hope are gone.
I’d like to cry, but I just can’t find the tears.
The days are hot; the creeks are dry,
And the sky is blue and hazy.
These dusty roads I’m driving down,
Lord, they’re driving me crazy.
All the streams are running slow,
And the ponds are getting low.
I don’t know how long it’s been
Since we’ve had rain.
And when the love no longer flows,
And the cracks begin to show
I’ll understand, but I just can’t stand the pain.
Oh, the air is thick and still.
The heat hangs heavy in the hills,
And nothing seems to move
For miles around. Another day, another dawn;
Seems it just goes on and on,
And no one seems to know when it will end.

© Bob Dyer, 1982.

Humor helps get through these miserable days (although I tell people that I waited all winter for days like these, and I did).

I hear it’s so dry that the Baptists are sprinkling and the Methodists are spitting; that the cows are giving evaporated milk and one gave birth to fifty pounds of jerky. I went hunting with a slingshot for catfish the other day but when I got some I found they all had ticks–that’s how dry it’s been.

Our local police department has announced a water gun buyback program; the city has closed two lanes of the swimming pool, and dogs are marking their territory with chalk lines;

It rained a little bit yesterday and so surprised one guy that he fainted and didn’t regain consciousness until we threw a bucket of dust in his face.

We saved some of the rainwater and had it analyzed by the state. The folks at the state laboratory told us it was only 35% moisture.

All of this talk about a drought probably isn’t all that funny to a lot of people in northwest Missouri whose homes, businesses, and farms have been under water for weeks and will be under water for more weeks. We think of them even as we try to find something light about our hot and dry situation. .

Bob Dyer had it right at the end of his song with lines that can apply to those who are victims of too much water and those who are victims of too much dryness:

Another day, another dawn;
Seems it just goes on and on,
And no one seems to know when it will end.

But we know it will end, eventually. Keeping some sense of humor helps us get through these extremes.

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