With summer comes the need to keep cool. Kids have the unique ability to set aside things like concern over wet clothes or ruined makeup. They simply don’t care about those things. If given the chance, they will run through the sprinkler, clothes or bathing suit…it just doesn’t matter. And, who needs to ask for permission every time? Just tell mom that you were walking by and simply got wet…yeah, right!

Why is it that something that brought such pleasure as kids, seems to be something that we cringe at as adults. Just getting caught in a sprinkler or rain storm as an adult sends us running for cover, but as kids we relished the chance to do the exact same thing. And, as adults when we get caught in that situation, it doesn’t matter how hot we are, that water feels so extremely cold! What has changed? We are the same person…only older! I don’t get it.

As kids, all we can think about is finding a way to get out of the heat. Even end of school picnics can incorporate a type of sprinkler. How do you cool down an entire class of kids at the same time? You call in the fire trucks, of course. Now I wouldn’t want to be hit by a fire hose head on, because it would seriously hurt!! But, you spray that same hose into the air, and it becomes some of the coolest “rain” you ever saw. It becomes just like a downpour!! What better way to soak an entire class of kids!!

And of course, there is still the more conventional way of cooling off…the back yard pool, or as it is with little kids, the wading pool. It is in the wading pool that many kids find that you don’t need the water to be deep necessarily, just cold. Add a few toys, and you have an afternoon of cool fun.

Yes, kids get to have all the fun…without all the inhibitions. Looking back on those years when my sisters and I were running through the sprinkler, I can remember what it was like to be a kid. Sometimes, I wish those days weren’t in the past, but then I look at what I have now, and I realize that I probably wouldn’t want to go back there…even for the fun of running through the sprinkler without worrying about my makeup.

We are a little bit past the middle of summer, and it is a time when it usually starts to get pretty dry in Wyoming, but this is not a normal year…in many places. We have had a wet year so far, but nevertheless, in the last few weeks, I have noticed more brown in our lawn than before. One would think that with all the snow we got this year, and the overflowing rivers, that the lawns would be lush and green, but that is not the case. It doesn’t take many days at almost 100 degrees to scorch the grass…not to mention the people.

My daughter, Amy loves the rain. When the clouds start moving in, she stars cheering. Most people hate to have it rain at the end of a work day in the summer, because it ruins their plans for the evening, but rain makes Amy come alive. When it starts to rain, it is all Amy can do not to run out the door to go drive in the rain. She says there is nothing quite like driving in the rain. Each of us has something that makes us feel alive. Of all the different things it could be, rain is probably one of the nicest.

I particularly like thunder storms, provided I am not out in them. Lightning and the ensuing thunder are God’s fireworks, if you ask me, and I think it is beautiful. I guess that is why I would rather see those clouds move in a little later in the day. Lightning is at its best after dark. I love how it lights up the whole sky, and when the thunder rolls, especially if the strike was close, the whole house shakes. It’s very cool and it always makes a cozy night at home that much more cozy.

There just really isn’t a negative side to a rain storm, including afterward. The lightning flashes, the thunder rolls, the rain pours down, the air smells fresh and clean, and then, after it’s all over, comes the promise…the rainbow…the last beauty of the storm. There is just something about a rainbow. It’s beauty and mystery are beyond compare. Though many have tried to explain how it might come to be, but it just doesn’t add up. It’s God’s masterpiece. His gift to us. His promise. And it is awesome. All of it, together making up the beauty of the mid-summer rain.

Yesterday’s bad weather gave way to a very nice morning, so Bob and I set out for Harney Peak again. We are either determined or crazy, and since we passed a guy who went up and down twice today, I don’t think I’m so crazy. Today’s hike would be different. Our hikes up Harney Peak now total 6.8, with yesterday’s disappointing short hike to 1/2 mile from the top when we had to go down because of weather.

The weather this morning was perfect for a hike. The temperature was not too hot and not too cool. We started out early to beat the heat that would surely come. We were on top by 10:45 am. Many times when we have gone to Harney Peak, it was cold and we ate our lunch and headed back down out of the cold wind. Once again, this time would be different. It was so nice on top that we decided to take some extra time to eat our lunch and enjoy nature.

We found a spot to eat our lunch, and cool off. After eating most of our lunch in the shade, we decided to finish up in a more sunny spot. The chipmunks on the peak have lived their lives around people, and they have very little fear of us. The seem to think that your lunch is meant to be shared with them. I suppose that is because so many people do share with them. If you try to share with them, however, don’t bother with the bread. These little guys are picky. They want the chips.

Bob had Fritos, and that is one of their favorites. As we sat there, one little guy decided that we had a lunch date, and he was going to get to those Fritos even if he had to climb over me to get them…well almost. He wasn’t quite that brave, but he did go around me to get to those chips. And after getting his reward a couple of times, we were pals. He got very brave, coming back for more and even eating his chip by my feet. He was so cute. And after a while, he even agreed to pose for a few pictures. I think he knew I was going to write about him and would need a photo for proof of our lunch date.

The morning started out sunny with only a chance of late afternoon thunderstorms. We headed out at about 9:00 am for a 2 hour hike up the mountain, an hour on top for lunch, and a 2 hour hike back down the mountain. That was the plan anyway, but as sometimes happens, things didn’t go according to plan.

We were about half way in when the clouds rolled in and the thunder began. It wasn’t the first time we had hiked in a little but of thunder, but it is in moments like those that you begin to look for possible areas of shelter as you hike along. Knowing what I do of the area, I know that many of the lightning strikes in the area hit on or very near the Harney Peak tower. Being about 1.9 miles from the top gives a little feeling of safety, but you still need to be on your toes. Since we could see areas of sunshine behind the clouds, we decided to press on and hoped the storm would pass uneventfully.

Of course, when we were thinking of uneventfully, we meant that the lightning would pass on. That did happen, but in it’s place came the rain, and soft hail. Since we were higher now, and after trying to wait it out for about 20 minutes during which we were pretty thoroughly soaked, we made the determination that it would most likely not blow over.

And so it was with sadness that we decided to turn back only 1/2 mile from our prize. This was to have been our 6th trip up Harney Peak, but instead it would be trip 5.8. As we head back down to a rock that would make a perfect shelter, the rain continues to pour down. We are still amazed at the people who we continue to pass heading up as we head down. Finally, we get to the rock shelter and finally we are able to dry out a little. We stayed there about another 20 minutes, then decided to head back to the car. We were cold and bummed.

Heading back we could see the clouds rolling in again, as people continued to head up the mountain. Then the thunder began to roll again, and we knew we had made the right decision. No sooner had we reached the car and started eating our lunch, than the rain poured down with a vengeance. Oh well, maybe we will try again tomorrow.

Every year and every storm, we hear the same things. Everyone says, “We need the moisture.” I realize that it is a habit to say that and often it is true, but not always. The last couple of years here have been wet years, and while I realize that we have been in a draught, and it takes time to pull out of that, it seems to me that when we are sandbagging and the river is almost touching the underside of the bridges, we can safely stop saying, “We need the moisture.”

Wyoming joins other states who all have one thing in common…too much water. Our snow pack is a 200% of normal in many places. Our rivers are high, our lakes are full, and our ground is saturated to the point of mudslides. We are far beyond needing the moisture and into flooding or the danger of flooding. One of the trails Bob and I like to walk on is already partly under water, and we are told that when Pathfinder spills over the dam this weekend, the river will rise another foot.

The road between Alpine and Hoback junctions is closed due to a mudslide. I guess that might have happened in Wyoming before, but I don’t remember it. No word yet on when that mud might be removed from the highway…I suppose it will depend on when it stops sliding. Right now the ground is so saturated and the rain just keeps on coming, so it may very well be a while. And will something like this happen on other roads…maybe, we just don’t know.

What surprises me, in this day of easy access to mountains of infomation, and instant information about current events, that there are still people who don’t realize what the current situation here is. All I know is that if, when the next storm hits, I hear one more person say, “we need the moisture”, I will just scream.

It was raining tonight as we headed over to my in-laws house, and my thoughts wandered back to when I was a little girl. Few things were more exciting on a summer day when I was little than going outside in the rain. All you needed was an umbrella, because after all, that was what they were for, right. We would run outside the minute it started to rain, hoping for it to rain really hard so the water would run rapidly down the gutter. And once it did, we would be out there splashing along in the water, with boots on and an umbrella over our heads. I’m sure it made a funny picture.

Why is it that we all seem to have an obsession with the rain. My daughter, Amy can’t wait for the rain to come. If at all possible, she immediately goes out driving in the rain. She is totally at peace when driving in the rain. I think many of us have some of our fondest memories built around the rain. It’s got this hold on us somehow. Even when the lightning flashes and the thunder rolls, the rain is captivating. It has a peaceful feel that is beyond compare.

Tonight while driving in the rain, my mind wandered back to those days, so long ago, when all was right in my world. Nothing would ever change…I was just sure of it. And whenever it rains, I get that feeling all over again. It’s like when it rains everything is clean and new again. The world seems to renew itself.

Like that little girl playing in the rain that I once was, I still love the rain. Everything smells fresh and clean. And I feel free and at peace. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

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