I haven’t experienced the smell in the seven years I’ve lived in Texas County.
In fact, it was an odor that was different than any other I can recall.
As I was walking last week down the driveway at the remote Texas County outpost where my wife Wendy and I reside (assessing the brutality inflicted on our driveway by a so-called dry wash that has on multiple occasions this year looked more like the Columbia River below Grand Coulee Dam) I couldn’t help but take notice of the smell. It’s hard to describe, but it was like a wet dog lying on a dead fish in a bed of flowers outside a perfume factory near a pig farm.
I wasn’t sure if it was pleasant or gross, but I found out later that I wasn’t the only one aware of it. During another walk down the driveway (a.k.a. “the area formerly known as driveway”), Wendy mentioned a “minnowy smell.”
Yeah, like minnows swimming in a barrel of stagnant pond water in a field of lilies next to a pastry factory alongside a slaughterhouse.
Again, not sure if it was nice or nauseating, a bouquet or a stench, but it was certainly a unique, multi-layered aroma, and I’m quite sure is was a result of the ground, plants, trees, loam and everything else in the vicinity of our tree-lined driveway being absolutely saturated with H20.
After seven days of rain (thank God it wasn’t 40), the ground in our neck of the woods was so saturated it made that squish-squish sound when you walked on it. I’ll tell you what, my memory might be failing at my ancient age, but I can’t recall anything like this.
When my family lived in Cleveland, Ga., and the remnants of Hurricane Ivan swept through White County and the rest of the northeast Georgia mountains in late September of 2004, rain fell hard for several days. The headwaters of the Chattahoochee River turned into the Amazon, ditches became fast-running, dangerous torrents, and roads took a big-time beating.
But it was nothing like this.
Of course, Seattle is known for rain, but it usually falls relatively softy and steadily for extended periods. I recall an occasion in the early 1990s when it fell hard for days on end and the normally dry creek in the back yard of our forested tract near Gig Harbor ran like a pretty mountain stream swollen with fast melting snowpack.
But it was nothing like this.
As far as I’m concerned, this one was for the books and memorable for many reasons beyond simple water volume.
Here are a few of observations about our aquatic experience during early August of 2013:
––It must be hard for meteorologists to predict the weather when an “unsettled” pattern sets in as was the case last week in the Ozarks. Example: You can log onto your favorite weather page one day and see a prognostication of 30 to 40-percent chance of rain for the following three days. Then when you look outside the next day and observe rain falling so hard you can barely see the donkey on the other side of the fence line, you can log on again and it says the rain chance for the day is 80-percent, with totals of an inch or more possible.
Ya think? I guess waffling in the name of accuracy is acceptable – if you’re a weatherman or woman.
––Different species of plants at our remote Texas County outpost seem to have reacted differently to the onslaught of airborne water. The tomato plants in our garden may well be water-logged, because they’re loosing foliage and pretty droopy, but we have mimosa trees and flowering bushes that are in full bloom (and have been blooming for months now).
––I’ve thought about it, and I’m not sure which is easier to deal with, an extended drought (see summer of 2012) or a tidal wave of rain (see last week). I’m pretty sure it’s a tie – they’re both a major hassle.
And how strange is it that we’ve had both in the space of just over a year? If there was any doubt that this region of North America has potentially one of the most diverse climates on the planet…
––I’ve heard several people who have basements in their homes talk about how this is the first time they’ve ever seen water in their subterranean spaces. Imagine how saturated the ground has to be when the only way water can find more room to expand is by traveling through concrete or cement.
––Dirt and gravel roads are cool to drive on – until a trench forms that’s both 18 inches wide and deep, or until a chasm forms that’s three feet deep and 17 feet wide (thank you township workers for rebuilding our means of mobility that water so incessantly loves to destroy).
––At one point last week when I came back indoors after tackling some sort of farm animal-related task that required a trip into and out of the monsoon, I was thinking my feet were becoming webbed. But it turned out my vision was blurred because glasses were fogged.
May the rest of your summer resemble summer, and may all your trails be mud (and trench) free.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: email@example.com.