I Don't Know Weather
What do you expect from someone born in a state that is currently experiencing a drought? When they sing "it never rains in California", they're not just making shit up. But when you stop to think about it, who decided to plunk a society smack dab in the middle of the desert? (Speaking mainly about Southern California here; seriously, but desert.) I'm used to low humidity, dry climes, moderately warm days and colder nights. Rain? Sure, it happened. Usually, parties were thrown.
Now I live in central Florida where rain is just part of the daily routine. Even if it doesn't rain, the 100% humidity is making you feel like there are droplets hitting your face anyway. We get crazy storms there too. I'd never heard the term "deadly lightning" until I moved to Orlando and a Floridian will tell you don't worry 'bout no wind, don't hustle for no rain, but when that lightning stops bouncing around in the sky above you and starts taking potshots at the ground, clear out.
For whatever reason this year on tour, I am running like a fugitive from some nasty storm fronts and it's all I can do to stay one step ahead of the outbreaks from this system. There's been some leaking in Rita and some crazy 30 mph side-gusts with thick, blobbish rain that sent debris tumbling across the fields and onto the roadway in front of us. For a while there it was like being stalked by some kind of unstoppable slasher film killer. I'd have just enough time to pull into a gas station, fill up, cap off and head out before the winds began to pick up and the darkness rolled in.
At the Gebhard Woods Dulcimer and Traditional Music Festival in Morris, Illinois, one year, storms closed down the entire second day of performances and ended the festival, so I never got to perform. This year, I got fifteen minutes into my set on Sunday before the festival was canceled due to nearby lightning strike. In about an hour, I was headed south to Charleston with a diagonal blade of severe storms pushing in from the west; I literally couldn't stop or else be swept up in the tornadic-looking masses that were swirling out the passenger side door.
About a week later while performing at SummerFest in Woodburn, Indiana, the sound guy had me on watch, ready to signal a shut down if lightning got too close to the fair. Crack after crack ripped through the sky as I performed and looked over at him occasionally. Suddenly, a bright flash and instantaneous crackling explosion just to the back of the tent sent everyone jumping at once with a few shrieks rising as a chorus. By the time I met the sound guy's gaze, he was giving the hand-slicing to the throat gesture that said shut it down. Just as I packed up the last piece of gear, the sky opened up and the police were rushing us into the storm shelter where we remained for about 20 minutes while all hell broke loose outside. Later on, I ogled the site of the lightning strike some 800 feet away from the stage. A tree had been splintered and bits of wood, branches and blossoms had exploded all across the adjacent fire station parking lot. That's as close as I ever want to get again, thanks.
Now, I'm at the Altamont Fairgrounds in Altamont, New York for Old Songs Festival and there is, of course, a forecast of rain. It was jokingly, and perhaps earnestly, said at Coshocton Dulcimer Days festival last week that I was the one who was dragging all of the bad weather along behind me (it likewise was a wet one for half of the festival, no lightning though.) Well, I contend it was The Lindseys, because they were at Gebhard Woods too and, besides, they're from Oklahoma, where most of this crappy weather likes to hang out.
Besides, if I really dragged Florida weather along with me, it would just storm balls-out for about fifteen minutes and then it would say, "thank you for letting me vent," and leave you with nothing but clear sunny skies and increased humidity for the rest of the day. Our storms are violent but they're also polite and don't wish to overstay their welcome. Everyone else's storms are bad houseguests that linger for days, clog up your bathroom plumbing and eat all of your secret stash of Ho-Ho's.
I won't complain too much, though. From what I gather, the rest of the country is pretty much in a giant heatwave. I'll take cool, wet weather in the summer any day. Just hold the lightning, please.