Lake Fausse Point, Louisiana

July 12th, 2003

By Roger Emile Stouff

I find myself looking around for an old bearded man who's hitting the lumberyards for gopher wood and goes by the name Noah.

Come on, there's got to be an end to this rain. This has been the worst year I can remember in a long time in terms of the constant precipitation. While not always a deluge, the ever-present threat of rain puts a damper - pardon the pun - on most outside activities.

I mean, I looked outside one evening about 6:30 and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. "Fishing!" I quite naturally think, so I grab my tackle bag and a couple rod tubes and leap into the truck, break the speed limit getting to a fishing pond. I set up my fly rod on the bed of the truck, march over to the water's edge, and made exactly three casts.

Then the sky darkens like something from The Omen and there's a tremendous CRASH! BOOM! Along with that, the SPRIZLLLE-ZIPP! of lightning not far away.

I was about to make another cast when demons started falling out of the clouds, frogs were jumping to their deaths on the highway, cats were keeling over all around me, so I high-tailed it back to the truck just in time to avoid getting drenched. I couple of demons landed in the back of the truck, but the frogs got them under control.

This has got to stop, but who am I to tell The Man Upstairs how to run his creation? I feel inclined to remind him that his son was a fisherman, and the favored disciple, John, was among the first celebrity fishermen. The Man Upstairs should, I would hope, have some mercy for us poor anglers sitting drearily by the windows watching the rain.

One afternoon, when there was supposed to be a 20 percent chance of rain, the bottom fell out and the rain was so thick I couldn't see four feet beyond the front door. That morning, I had gone for a ride in my mahogany runabout, and had left it on the hitch of the truck while I went inside for lunch. I ended up napping, and when the thunder started, I actually thought, "Oh, good, I love napping with the rain pittering and pattering on the roof."

It was then I suddenly thought, "THE BOAT!" Leaping from the sofa, I don't think I placed but one foot on the floor between there and the door, raced to the truck and backed the boat under the garage without a second to spare before the deluge came. The number one commandment of wooden boat ownership, Thou Shalt Keep It Dry, had nearly been broken, and the specific portion of hell dedicated to defilers of that commandment involves being strapped to the deck of a fiberglass ski boat which is captained by Gilligan.

I looked at the radar, and there was only a thread-thin band of rain moving southwest to northeast, right over the Rez. I mean, it was so thin you could barely see it, but it was raining like hallelujah, brethren outside. There, you see, was the 20 percent of rain we were given, and we got each and every percentile point at my house.

Groaning, "I should have built an ark instead of a mahogany runabout," I settled back for a nap, but the thunder and crashing lightning kept me awake.

In much the same way Noah was ridiculed for his pessimism, I am chastised for my optimism. Noah caught some serious flack for warning everybody that it was about to rain for 40 days and 40 nights. I catch serious resentment when I say, "It's not going to rain today," which is merely a fisherman's wishful thinking. Noah and I, you see, are peas at opposite ends of the same pod. My only failing is that I have no idea how long a cubit is, and my Stanley tape measure does not indicate one. Besides, gopher wood does not grow around here.

Between rainstorms, whenever some slight reprieve allows, I go out and check on the boats, which are under covers. I pat them on their decks and say, "Don't worry, baby, we'll get to go out one day," but I don't think they believe me. They sit there looking despondent, the tires going flat from daily disappointment, their chrome dull with depression and their sheerlines sagging with crestfallen rotten luck.

So I go to work, then I go home and suffer from cabin fever because the rain is keeping me prisoner. It's worse than winter. Listen, I don't want to go into drought mode, but I strongly suspect that if we get much more of this, Louisiana will simply slide off into the Gulf of Mexico, a soggy, sodden mush like undercooked pudding, New Orleans riding the forefront beneath the waves like a wooden carving on a Viking vessel. Baton Rouge will follow, still spewing smokestacks of pollution in the air, and Monroe will pull up the rear.

Thank goodness it isn't grinding season.

The other bad thing is, the rain makes the grass grow at a radioactive rate. Meaning, like in those '50s horror movies where ants ingest nuclear waste and grow to 10 feet tall, my grass is a mutant creature, thriving in the rain and growing inches per day. I tried to cut it during one brief spell of sunshine, but I was slinging water more than grass from the cutting deck. I looked like I was riding a hovercraft instead of a lawn mower. That can't be good for the mechanicals. My yard is in danger of being declared a wetland by the feds. Okay by me, long as I can fish in it. I could cast from the porch, safe from the rain.

There is this fear that I will wake up one morning and the house has floated away during the night, me along with it. I'll wake up and look out the window and we'll be in Jamaica. Rotten luck again, I wanted to go to Cuba, for the cigars if nothing else. I'm not a big fan of rum.

If anybody has a red phone to The Man Upstairs, send a plea for us. Our cup runneth over, so to speak. I dreamed I took Patches, my tortoise shell calico kitty, and threw her out of a window, thinking it might be a port hole like on Noah's ark, but instead of coming back with an olive branch, she came back with a water lily. There's a prophecy of doom if I ever saw one. ~ Roger

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