This blog originates on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, in Louisiana. It proposes to share the things that happen on and by the river as the seasons progress. As the river changes from quiet, warm, slow flow to rises of eighteen feet or more, there are changes in the lives of the birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles that use the river. And the mood of the river changes with the seasons. I propose to note and comment on these things.

My Photo
Location: Butte La Rose, Louisiana, United States

I transitioned a few years ago from a career as a water-pollution control biologist. I want to do this blog to stay in touch with a world outside my everyday surroundings, whatever they may be. I like open-minded company and the discussion of ideas. Photo by Brad Moon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Three inches of RAIN

Sunset before the storms last night.

It took almost continuous lightning to do it, but we got a good three-inch rain last night! I am always amazed how fast people complain when conditions aren’t just right for what they want to do at the moment. One moment we are in a drought of unprecedented character (driest three months on record), and then we get a generous rain, and still people complain. I remember what it was like in 1999, 2000 and 2001. A lot of things were dying by the time it rained enough to make a difference. This included azaleas and camellias that were ten feet tall, plants that were older than I was. Ever since then my motto has been “Never curse the rain, unless it’s life threatening”. No matter what my plans might be for outdoor activities, the motto stands, no matter what. My activities might be affected, but without rain everything is affected. While I know that it is unlikely to ever happen, in extremes nothing that we are used to can live for long without water from the sky. We can irrigate our home gardens and lawns, but ever notice how little growth comes from that? Mostly it just seems to put things in a holding pattern – they don’t die, but they usually don’t grow much either. Larger-scale forced irrigation using pumps pulling up groundwater, or bayou water, may not be an alternative much longer. The groundwater supply is finite, and the price of fuel to run the pumps is anything but predictable, which may eventually make the fuel finite as well. Water from the sky, we have to have it. Smell it, walk in it, listen to it, feel good when it happens, and, worse case just say “Oh, well”. Never curse the rain.

The hummers were back at it this morning as though nothing happened last night. How do they withstand the force of the elements like the storms and wind we had? And how fortunate to be here instead of 200 miles out in the Gulf when the rain and wind comes and maybe sweeps them out to sea? I’ll bet the oil platforms are covered with them at times like that, as well as all the other birds unfortunate enough to not make landfall before the storms hit. There is evidence to that effect from monitoring studies that were done on the oil platforms several years ago. The data from those studies is still not available, as I am given to understand by some who did the surveys. Too bad, it would be interesting, particularly with the new proposals to place wind turbines in the Gulf. Who knows which way the evidence would point if we could see it?

The rain will also make some water available for frogs to finally make some headway with breeding this year. We missed the second LAMP run completely, and the period for the third run starts tomorrow. We’ll do that one this weekend hopefully, or early next week.

Napoleon is an outside cat, more or less. There is a place for he and Alcibiades to sleep in bad weather in the garage, but the lightning and thunder must keep him up because this is how he is on mornings after storms.

The river is at 6.8 on the Butte La Rose gauge and will stay there supported by local rain for several days. The Mississippi is rising a little, also from local rains, but the Ohio is falling pretty steadily – and that’s the big pump.

Rise and Shine, Jim


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