Hot as a firecracker lit on both ends

To celebrate today’s welcome precipitation, I decided to post a quotation about rain in Texas. Ten minutes of googling produced numerous quotations about rain, but few that had anything to do with the Lone Star State.

I have no idea why that surprised me.

Most of the sayings about weather and Texas that I located have to do with drought. I found the following at More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At.

“So dry the Baptists are sprinkling, the Methodists are spitting, and the Catholics are giving rain checks.”  In an updated version e-mailed to me by a relative last week, the Methodists are using Wet-Wipes. The Presbyterians are doing something as well, but I’ve forgotten what.

A second is, “So dry I’m spitting cotton.” That one I learned from my mother.

Following hard on the heels of “Dry” in the list is “Hot.” Two of the sayings I particularly like: “Hot as a summer revival,” and “Hot as a fur coat in Marfa.”

I myself can attest to the truth of the simile regarding the summer revival, and a Methodist revival, 1950s pre-air conditioning, at that.

Never having visited Marfa, I checked with The Weather Channel and learned that the average high there for June, its warmest month, is 91 degrees.

Austin has just gone through the hottest summer on record–as of August 30, 67 days of temperatures of at least 100 degrees, as opposed to the annual average of 12 triple-digit days. Average daily temperatures, of course, weren’t that high, but still there might be justification for altering the adage, at least temporarily. Marfa’s summer was possibly just as hot, but if so, Austin meteorologists aren’t  talking about it.

My mother’s description of Texas heat doesn’t appear on the Colorful Sayings site but is, I think, worthy: “Hot as a firecracker lit on both ends.” That fits the summer of 2009 to a T.

I’ve often wondered why my ancestors, when they arrived from Tennessee and Georgia and North Carolina, didn’t take a look around, turn their horses, and go  back where they came from. A friend native to northern climes says it had to do with snow. That’s a possibility. My own idea is that they arrived in April, right in the middle of bluebonnet season, when Central Texas is quilted in blue. No other landscape can compare. Under those circumstances, I’d have stayed, too.

But what they didn’t know at the time is that the broad sweeps of blue spring from sufficient rain and low temperatures over the preceding winter, conditions that are never a certainty and that in recent years have been rare.

A local news anchor said this evening–not the first time I’ve heard this and surely not the last–“I know we need rain, but I hope the (fill in the blank) event doesn’t have to be canceled.” Such remarks following stories of cattle being sold off for lack of feed, crops burning up in the field, and water being rationed used to set my teeth on edge. Having studied detachment, however, I now merely hear it and let it go.

But privately, I counter with a quotation from Tom Barrett, Mayor of Milwaukee: “If the rain spoils our picnic, but saves a farmer’s crop, who are we to say it shouldn’t rain?”


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