About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rain Dance

Everyday I check the weather, hoping that a blessed raincloud will fly in from the west and soak the parched land. Each time a single cloud floats into the sky I cry out to it, begging for it to release its heavy load. Perhaps this land has seen a drought of this magnitude before and maybe the ancient oak tree in my yard knows this too will pass. But I have never seen the Ozarks this dry in all my life.
Yet life proceeds as normal. The man on the radio reports the weather, same as yesterday and tomorrow, in a monotone voice. Why doesn't he cry out, "Oh lord, we need rain. When, oh, when will it rain!" The grass is brown already. The creeks are dry and the rivers are low. Yet people still drive from air conditioned place to air conditioned place. They recall that we skipped winter and they remark on the hot day. But  When will the people change. The earth is already changing. It is time to catch up before it is too late. When will the people stop and scream, "How is it that we have forgotten how to make it rain?"
Thursday, at the Ozark Natural Science Center, I went to the girls' cabin to help our new intern get the 11 and 12 year old children to breakfast. The sky was dark grey, and low, looming clouds were approaching from the north/west. I stood on the porch in front of the girls' lodge inspecting the sky with almost 20 kids while a the stragglers finished getting ready.
"Is it going to rain?" one girl asked.
"I sure hope so!" I answered.
Because we were planning on being outside all morning and the rain would change our plans to go down to the dry creek bed, I excepted a grumble or two. Instead, they all agreed without hesitation that the much needed rain was more than welcome to soak their plans.
"Let's do a rain dance," I suggested.
"How?" asked a girl.
"I don't know," I admitted. "I have forgotten. But our ancestors did them for thousands of years. So try to remember with me. Or just make it up as you go along."
We start dancing around on the porch.
One brown headed girl with squinty eyes stood staring at me as if I were a fool and then said, "You can't do a rain dance here." I stopped dancing and looked down into her laughing eyes. "You have to dance in the dust so that the earth can talk to the clouds."
Of course! I love it when I am outsmarted by a fifth grader.
We stepped off the porch and found a dusty spot in the trail. As we danced, we kick up as much dust as possible. Later I learned that dust actually does make it rain! There is a scientific reason why rain dances work. If enough negatively charged dust particles make their way into the clouds then the rain particles can bond to the dust particles and the water droplets fall.
We danced in the dust. We stomped and kicked until the particles were lifted by the wind.
Less than 15 minutes later, the much needed rain began to fall.


  1. This has moved me to tears, thank you.

  2. I see a raindance playdate in our future!!!! You must of course teach about this dust to rain thing.

  3. Beautiful!! And yes, this summer and last summer have been the driest years in my entire life too. And I too have always lived in the Osarks. And with no winter, we're experiencing more insects than normal too. Fantastic impromptu dancing with the kids!! Loving it. Keep up the positive inspiration for their lives!

  4. Thanks, everyone! Do me a favor and kick up some dust for me this weekend! God knows we need some rain!