Mason County News
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Water or Lack of It...
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 • Posted July 22, 2009

If music that soothes the savage beast is the universal language, rainfall—or lack of it—surely must be the topic that riles up conversationalists around the globe. One of the reasons farmers and ranchers gather at the feed store is to compare rain gauge readings. This sometimes leads to arguments about how much it rained and how fast, followed by allegations about faulty gauges—or failure to empty same.

Sometimes conversations swing to complaints about the heat, gulch-dry droughts and old jokes about the Biblical rains of 40 days and nights—the same time Texas got just a sprinkle.

Truly, weather is a topic that piques interest, at least for a while….

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Uncle Mort down in the thicket says it’s so dry that the catfish he caught there were tick-infested. And he’s heard tell that deep in the thicket, the trees are whistling for dogs.

He also blames the drought for fouling up plans for his 97th birthday celebration. “Aunt Maude went to a heap of trouble finding a cake pan large enough to make a big ol’ Kansas-shaped cake with room for 97 candles,” he complained.

Sadly, members of the volunteer fire department cautioned them not to light the candles, what with the burn ban in effect….

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I guess it’s no wonder that there’s enough weather news for detailed reports on every newscast.

With rain, it’s a “feast or famine” deal—always has been, always will be.

One politico says it’s so dry in his district, he can’t even “water down” the truth….

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There is spillover, of course, that results in other news of water. There are ancillary topics about rationing, cost, getting the wet stuff “from here to there,” and, in some cases, who owns underground water sources.

If such news continues to rumble, look for some new song lyrics about water. A full 60 years ago, the Sons of the Pioneers, common figures with Roy Rogers on silver screens, made us thirsty with their rendition of Cool, Clear Water.

Don’t pretend that you don’t remember! The haunting lyrics still parch my throat: “All day I face the barren waste, without the taste of water, cool, clear, water. Old Dan and I, with throats burned dry and souls that cry, for water, cool, clear, water.” There are three more verses, and a mournful chorus: “Keep a-movin’ Dan, don’t ya listen to him Dan, he’s a devil not a man, and he spreads the burning sand with water. Dan, can’t you see that big green tree where the water’s running free, and it’s waiting there for you and me?” I don’t expect any new music to rival that….

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Enough about music. Let us resume a “trickle down” approach to news that is “all wet.”

Debate rages about bottled water vs. tap water, and it’s an absolute tug of war. As discarded plastic bottles pile up to be the size of Montana, my guess is that most of us will return to the tap.

Tap? What about the Flying Fish Brewery in Rhode Island? It plans to name beers for exits on the New Jersey Turnpike. There’s much controversy, and some foes want the Flying Fish folks to take a flying leap. If this name-game be true, surely one of the brands will be “Rest Area Ahead.”…

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Most breweries don’t crow about their water sources like they used to. Earlier, we heard commercials about the “land of sky blue waters,” and the “country of eleven hundred springs.” Now it’s about filling and less filling, with five New York doctors marching toward the ad scene.

I’m just proud that restaurant waitpersons still offer ice water with lemon at no extra charge. A skin-flint friend in my youth was too tight to pay 15 cents for a mealtime drink. Instead, he asked for “ice water.” Later, he’d ask for some lemon wedges, intent to make his own lemonade, liberally pouring sugar from the dispenser.

The guy would climb over a gate just to save the hinges….

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One of the best printed signs I’ve seen lately was on a bottled water kiosk in our town: “Remember, the person you love most is 72.8% water.”

Clever, but not quite as good as the one some café personnel penned to strike back at the guffaws and bad jokes from the coffee crowd that overwhelms them daily. Their boldface sign reads: “If idiots were airplanes, this place would be an airport!”

Exit singing: “The nights are cool, and I’m a fool, each star’s a pool of water, cool water. But with the dawn, I’ll wake and yawn, then carry on, to water, cool, clear, water.”…

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site:

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