By Dennis Gordon

All of us want to have nice weather when we go on outings such as picnics, camping trips, shopping trips and vacations. We like for it not to rain when we need to cut the grass or have just washed the car.

When my son was in the scouts, it rained every, and I mean EVERY time we went on a camping trip. It rained when we went on family camping trips. It rained when we went to Pigeon Forge, TN on a camping vacation. In fact it rained every day. It poured while we where packing up to leave, only to have the sun come out after we had everything put away. Of course it was all wet.

When we started to build our house twenty something years ago, it had been a fairly dry summer. We had the trees pushed down and out of the way, the basement and footings dug. That evening it started to rain, and it rained for forty days and forty nights. At least that is the way it seemed. We were building in the timber and they couldn’t get in to work because of the mud. They hauled rock in but it just sunk into the mud. We had started the first part of November and they couldn’t get back in to start until the latter part of January.

I tell you all of this because we are over five inches below normal of rain so far this year. My pond is the lowest I have ever seen it since we have owned the property. We have had to water our plants almost every day and have still lost several bushes. The local farmer’s corn and bean crop yield has been about half of what is normal. It has been a long, hot, dry summer.

Maybe we should have considered doing something to bring the rain about. In ancient times, rituals and dances were offered to the gods to bring rain. Among the Hopi Indians, the rain dance is among the most sacred ritual. Any man in the tribe who was thought to have the “medicine” to make it rain was considered holy and was highly honored in his tribe. It has been said by the doubters, that these wise men had no special powers, but merely had observed the weather and knew that certain cloud formations brought rain. They then did their rain dance when these clouds appeared, making themselves look as if they had the “medicine.”

Rainmakers duped many farmers in the early 1900’s. They promised to save their crops by bringing rain. They would set up their “rainmaking machines” which did nothing but blow smoke or some secret potion in the air. They would wait till rain was on the way to put their act on, appearing as if it was their machines that brought the much-needed rain.

One of the most famous rainmakers was a man by the name of Charles Hatfield. In 1915, he agreed to bring rain to drought stricken San Diego for the sum of $10,000. His attempts brought devastating floods. Many lawsuits were filed against him and the city council refused to pay him his $10,000 fee. A movie staring Burt Lancaster called “The Rainmaker” was made about the life of Mr. Hatfield. It should be noted that his success was made by his sense of timing and forecasting skills and not his chemicals.

In modern day, rain can be brought about by cloud seeding. This involves flying an airplane through a cloud and seeding it with dry ice or silver iodide crystals. Some substances can be released on the ground and carried into the clouds by the winds. Cloud seeding cannot make rain out of nothing; some moisture has to be present. The seeding just pushes clouds over the edge to get them to produce rain.

It has been said that during the Vietnam War, cloud seeding was used to flood the Ho Chi Minh Trail. In 1972, a flash flood in Rapid City, South Dakota that killed more than 200 people was linked to cloud seeding activities. Although cloud seeding does bring results, it is only about 18 per cent of the time, probably about the same as the ancient rainmakers or the rainmakers of the past century.

As for the drought we have experienced this summer, maybe I can bring it to an end. I think I’ll plan a family camping trip.

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