Elmer Kelton's classic novel is The Time It Never Rained, about the drouth of the 1950s. Many years later, perhaps in the late 1990s, Elmer wrote an article entitled "The Time It Always Rained," in which he detailed the difficulties that can come to ranchers with too much rain, particularly in the sheep-raising part of Texas where he lives. But today I saw the good side of lots of rain. We've had a blessedly wet spring, and though I can't quote statistics, we've already had more rain this year than in the entire year in recent times. Jeannie and I went to Tolar to visit John and Cindy, my brother and his wife, and drove around his ranch on the mule (like a golf cart, only more powerful so that it can go over uneven terrain, mud, etc.) He's had that ranch ten years, and I've toured it many times in those years, but I've never seen it like this. The pastures with native grass--lots of bluestem, big and little, which the cattle really like--were better than knee high, and the wildflowers were beautiful--a field of yellow here and pink there, some scattered red and lots of tall purple flowers. The stock tanks were full, and everything was lush and green. It was breathtaking. Hot, yes, but not as bad as John had warned it would be. We moved his cows from one pasture to another, but there's no herding involved--if you honk the horn on the mule, the cows follow. I don't think I'd ever been in the pasture with the bull before, but he was definitely not interested in us--his attention was on the cows. After the tour we sat on the porch, drank wine, and sorted through my uncle's books that I'd recently been given and had brought for John's choosing. They were mostly Civil War books--I never knew that was one of my uncle's interests--and John kept one or two. I pulled out two encyclopedic illustrated books and a small Treasury of Mark Twain and brought the rest home to see if Brandon wants them--I've never known him to turn down a book. If not I'll give them to a library.
The books came to me in one of those wondereful acts of random kindness. I got an email from a woman named Franceen Shunck who said her husband's aunt had been married to my uncle. Her husband had some of my uncle's Civil War books, and she thought they belonged in my family, so she brought them to my office. We had a lovely visit, mostly about Aunt Gladys who in her nursing home years took to reading racy romance novels and underlining the salient parts. Franceen said they once took Gordon's sons, then teenagers, to see Aunt Gladys, and she handed them books saying, "Read the highlighted parts." But Franceen's visit and the books were a welcome tie to a past long gone.
All in all, it's been a lovely day, and at eight o'clock I'm so sleepy that I can hardly stay awake and upright.