Saturation Points

For the last few weeks, we’ve seen in abundance two phenomena that are usually scarce in western South Dakota—presidential candidates and rain.

Candidates generally tend to ignore us. As a state with a small population and a late primary, we’ve almost always been in the “also participating” category. The results of our votes amble in long after the race has been decided and the reporters have all packed up and gone home.

As for moisture, we’ve been in a cycle of drought for the last several years—summers with little rain and winters with almost no snow. A friend of mine who teaches fourth grade said last winter that some of the kids in her class didn’t even know how to play in the snow; they’d never had the opportunity.

This spring, though, things have been different. May started out with a snowstorm that had us measuring totals in feet instead of inches. Then it started raining. By the time the month was over, it had set a new all-time record for moisture—nearly ten inches. It had been so long since we’d seen saturated fields and bank-full creeks, we didn’t know how to act. But, oh, my goodness, we were grateful for the moisture.

In between thunderstorms, we started getting visits from presidential candidates. It had been so long (if, indeed, it’s ever happened at all) since our primary mattered to anyone except ourselves, we didn’t know how to act. But, oh, my goodness, we were grateful for the recognition.

The rainstorms kept coming, and coming, and coming. The candidates kept coming back, and coming back, and coming back. The two phenomena began showing uncanny similarities. Both tended to show up unexpectedly. Both were accompanied by a lot of noise and commotion. Both tended to disrupt the normal course of things, cause some inconvenience, and offer ample promises for future abundance. Candidates’ smiles carried some of the same brilliance as the flashes of lightning—and could disappear almost as fast upon discovering a potential supporter was a registered independent and therefore ineligible to vote in the primary.

By the time May turned into June, both the rain and the candidates were beginning to feel like just a little too much of a good thing. We started looking forward to those rare days of sunshine and those rare days without a candidate’s picture on the front page. I thought I might have to go to the farm supply store and buy a pair of tall rubber boots. What with one thing and another, it was getting awfully deep around here.

But by now, the primary is over. The candidates are gone. We’ve had our moment in the sun—figuratively speaking, at least—and we can relax back into obscurity.

It is still raining, though. Maybe I should have bought those rubber boots.

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