May May showers bring June flowers
May 2, 2002
It's May! It's May!
That is usually one of the most wonderful of all months in the beautiful Bear Paws because that is one of the best months to get rains and snows. In this year of an all-too-short runoff time, what we need now is rain or snow and plenty of it. What runoff we had did just that run off. What didn't sank right into parched ground and really was not even noticeable. Remember that we are fighting three years of drought, so if we have a normal year this year, it is going to take a couple more to make up for what we have lost. Maybe more.
For now, though, back to May. Denizens of the Bear Paws are fond of taking an old saying and changing it to fit our Bear Paws climate. Out there it is May showers that bring on June flowers. So May is a time of hope.
Beaver Creek Reservoir looks as empty as it ever has since it was built in the 1970s. But that can change quickly as well. One major rain event can all but fill that dam in a couple of days. That happened maybe three or four years ago. We had gone through a dry, dry spring and then all of a sudden at the end of June or beginning of July it rained and rained and rained. The reservoir filled much more quickly than authorities thought it would and water went over the spillway for a month or more after that. So it does not take much. Just one major event. A half month of gentle mists and rains would help, too.
The thing that gets people down is the wind. One fellow up by Chester said he has been farming for more than 50 years and had never seen anything like the winds of this year. He had planted winter wheat that was doing all right until the winds came. Winds exposed all the roots of his winter wheat. He does not know what to do now except to replant with spring wheat and hope that he gets something.
Meanwhile in the mountains, fronts will come in from the west a couple of times a week, but they're dust fronts, just blowing things away. That kind of weather is depressing, to say the least, and to have that on top of three years of drought is a lot for poor old northern Montana folks to bear.
What keeps people going is the knowledge that this is a country of rebounds and it takes so little really to rebound. Hay is just waiting to grow with the most minute moisture. That's the way with most things that are planted here.
So take heart and remember that we are, if nothing else, a land of extremes. So when the moisture comes, undoubtedly it will be too much. But it will come. That's how it is under the big sky of north-central Montana.