Gov. Jeff Colyer has made it official: Kansas is
It is difficult to measure precipitation on average in this
state because rain and snow can fall here with incredible
variance. Inconsistent is the norm. It may rain an inch in
Salina and McPherson while nothing happens in-between,
in Lindsborg. Hail may pellet the turf fields at Bethany
College while the skies are clear over Coronado Heights.
Small and forlorn gauges in one neighborhood may boast
a great downpour; across town, a sprinkle. When it comes
to moisture in these parts, aberration rules.
One thing is certain. In spite of any recent moisture (or
not), it hasn’t rained much if at all, in six months. Snow?
Of late, winter in Lindsborg brought only a few dustings ‒
welcome, but not helpful.
Colyer on March 13 issued a drought declaration for
the entire state, 28 counties designated “emergencies”,
another 29 with drought “warning” status; a color-coded
map in the governor’s office showed most of the western
two-thirds of the state in yellow (dry as dust) and red (drier
than dust). Even north and east Kansas are on a “drought
watch.” The difference lies in official policy, when to consider
rationing, or allow livestock to graze on Conservation
Reserve acreage, or to request state and federal assistance,
and other protections.
Meanwhile the worries loom, starting with water shortages.
Each day of dryness, wind and warmth escalates the
potential for fire. In these conditions an acre, or five acres,
can be incinerated in seconds.
Nature is indifferent, ironic. A couple of years ago in
January we noted the terrible floods that swept through
the great river valleys in the upper plains, starting with
the many tributaries that fed into the Mississippi River. As
the vast flood rolled south, citizens and local officials in
its wake began filing papers to request billions of dollars
in federal disaster assistance, government loans, insurance
payments and subsidies, emergency management grants,
equipment, and personnel.
Dry or wet, we turn to the government when disaster
Some desire help, others demand it. At times these cries
for assistance come from people who say they loathe the
government and anything about it. In our part of the socalled
heartland, red states turn violet with a special hatred
of anything federal. But at the first sign of trouble, out
comes the hat-in-hand turn-about, double-talk and artful
wheedling; seething is suppressed only for the moment,
at least until the money is in hand and the help has been
drained of its charity.
Weather and mother nature have a way of bringing out
the best and worst in us. We often boast of toiling to feed
a nation but, just as eagerly, freely bite the hand that feeds
our own. It is one thing to proclaim fierce independence,
but when hardship strikes the middle finger is tucked
away, and out stretch the hands, palms up, dependents
everyone; delusions of self-sufficiency go buried in the
closet, at least until the unsocial “media” resumes the trolling
and politicians resume the campaigning.
It’s likely a matter of short time until Kansas asks
Washington for some kind of help.
Such is the power of mother nature and the foible in
human nature. It reveals our most comforting fib, that
we remain free and independent by denying that we are
dependent, that we need and rely on the very government
we claim to despise.