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Where’d this rain come from? (08/09/2009)
By Frances Edstrom

Here it is Friday afternoon, and the rain is streaming down the window panes in my office. It’s dark, gloomy, and chilly.

Of course! We are expecting company, John’s oldest brother, Lee, and his wife, Kathy, have traveled from Rhode Island to see the Winona Edstroms, and also the Milwaukee Edstrom, their son Luke. And wouldn’t you know that all my prayers for rain would come together on the one weekend I would have liked some sunshine.

Summer in Winona is a place to show off to relatives. The river, the lake, the hills, the bike path! What more could a person want? Bratwurst on the grill, homemade potato salad, homegrown tomatoes from the Farmers Market. Somehow eating them at the kitchen table just isn’t the same as it would be at a picnic table (smoke from the grill, ants, and bees are the sorts of things we discourage in the house).

We have two new houses in the Edstrom Winona families. Who wants to show off the new house when the visitors can’t see the way the sun streams in the windows, or stroll the gardens, or sit on the deck? This rain just wasn’t expected during the dry summer we’ve been having. Even cloudy days lately haven’t produced any meaningful rain.

I have a history of weather-related disappointments.

It didn’t rain on my wedding day. Instead, the day was brutally hot, and of course the wedding reception was in my parents’ back yard. Guests sweated, fanned themselves with their plates, and removed as much clothing as is respectable in public. One of the guests said, “Next time, rent a hall!” Sorry, no next time.

John went to graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle during our second year of marriage. Everyone knows (we didn’t — this was before the Weather Channel) that it rains incessantly during the winters there. We were miserable. Rain, rain, rain, and more rain. Besides, we had no money. Our weekly grocery shopping trip was our social life, except for occasional visits from certifiably crazy neighbors (constant rain and lack of Vitamin D will do that to a person).

Our letters home were full of woeful tails and expressions of longing for the sunshine of Minnesota. John’s parents came to visit, and the minute they stepped off the plane, the rain stopped and the sun came out. People were walking around with looks of rapture on their faces, saying “hello” to each other as if they lived in Winona instead of the rainforest of the Northwest. Flowers appeared in the yard as if by time-lapse photography. The birds, who had been huddled in their nests, came out singing.

“What are you kids complaining about?” my father-in-law said. “You have to think POSITIVE! This place is beautiful!” They got on the plane and the relentless rain returned.

This weekend is that story in reverse. Lee and Kathy will go home, asking each other, “Aren’t you glad you don’t live in Minnesota?”

Oh, well, we know better. It just smarts a little. 


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