Corner Column


It should come as no surprise to anyone that there is no drought in our corner of the world.

The state drought index map recently (and for several weeks) showed the entire northeastern part of Texas as solid, bright blue (the lowest level) all the way out to places hundreds of miles away like Lubbock, San Angelo and Victoria.

There were a few places from the Big Bend west and in the far southern tip of the Rio Grande Valley, and a few small gaps on the High Plains around Amarillo that are not solid blue.

For Wood County, on a scale of 0-800, we were at 10, which means everything is virtually saturated. Zero would mean saturated ground to a depth of eight inches, whereas 800 would mean zero moisture left to that depth.

Those who can remember when those blue hues were orange and red not that long ago surely can’t be too somber about the soggy ground.

Pretty much every lake within a few hundred miles is at or near capacity, if not above. The state’s lakes are holding about 90 percent of the water they were designed for, and it’s only when you get to the truly dry confines of West Texas where lake levels are still struggling.

I keep reminding myself that by August it can be dried out with deep cracks formed. I grew up in black clay country where you could break a leg in those cracks.

The drought of 2011 comes to mind, when about the only grass left green at our place was directly above the septic tank’s laterals.

While we claim no credit for being able to influence Mother Nature, there is a bit of history when it comes to job changes.

Not long after taking on my second newspaper job, the county was hit by a 100-year flood. And then another hit only nine months later.

Roll ahead a decade or so when I interviewed and took a job just a couple hours north of the aforementioned Valley.

It rarely rains here, the publisher told me. By the time he had shown us the town and headed back to drop us off at our hotel in Corpus Christi, it was raining so hard he had to pull over. And only a few weeks after I started work, the city was hit with a driving rain storm that had the locals remembering the last time a hurricane made it that far inland.

I can’t say with certainty that every move has been met with excessive rainfall, but you tell me what the weather has been like around here since Jan. 1. I’m beginning to wonder if the hill next to our office ever stops seeping.

February is not supposed to be the wettest month of the year. It’s supposed to rain maybe two or three times, not every two or three days.

I assume the creeks and rivers eventually drain to the Gulf and the pastures get a chance to dry out. But I don’t know that for a fact. Perhaps we should check cattle for webbed feet.

I do know that typical rainfall increases as you move from west to east in this part of the world.

The trees and plant life are heartier here. Folks from areas where we lived on the west side of the Interstate 35 corridor can’t stay here long without becoming claustrophobic. They like to see the horizon, or they become disoriented.

Of course, one potential downside to lots of rain is healthy vegetation which, if and when it does dry out due to summer drought or natural death at the end of its life cycle next winter, means plenty of fuel for wildfires. Let’s hope that’s not the case this year.

I’ve seen up close the destruction that can be wrought and never want to witness that again. A good friend was severely burned trying to protect his home and was lucky to live to tell about it.

And the stress it puts on the first responders and their equipment can extract a heavy toll.

If April showers bring May flowers, can someone tell me, please, what benefit do we get from February flooding?

Basketball note

Before we get too far away from the high school basketball season, it should be noted on the record that it took some pretty good competition to oust Mineola teams from the state playoffs.

The Chapel Hill girls, who beat Mineola in the fourth round, and Dallas Madison boys (third round winner) went on to win their respective state championships. Chapel Hill recorded the rarest of feats, with an undefeated season.

Personal note

It’s good to know that Wood County communities recognize the contributions of local newspapers – specifically its editors. On successive Thursday nights we witnessed Larry Tucker in Quitman and Doris Newman in Mineola being recognized as outstanding citizens. We couldn’t agree more with those selections.