Rain is a Good Thing in the Mississippi Delta

Rainbow in the Mississippi Delta

A Rainbow off of Highway 61 in the Mississippi Delta

(Clarksale, Mississippi)

“ Hey John, I really have been praying for rain; I hope you get some…I watch the Weather Channel every day”

“Uh…..thanks, Mama, but it’s close to harvest now, and we don’t want any rain now for a long time. Appreciate the thought though.”

Two weeks later….

“Hey John, I’m glad to see you missed that rain Thursday.”

“Well thanks, Mama, but now we need a rain really badly to get the wheat up.”


“I tell you what, son. You just call me next time, and you tell me what to pray for.”

Farmers are never happy with the weather; just ask any farmer’s wife (or husband). Those of you who live in the Delta know it, and those of you who don’t, stand forewarned: weather, the ubiquitous conversation icebreaker with farmers, is a trap that may just ice down the conversation for good. Tread lightly and carefully around this brooding band.

Of all the weather phenomena the Great Creator sends our way, none in the farming world is so life-giving as blessed rain. A significant rain in the heart of the growing season may determine whether a family farm stays in business or not. At the very least, it may determine whether or not the farmer buys a new truck or tractor, hires an employee, or gives a charitable donation. The reality of this circumstance can be a weighty burden and demands resilience, optimism, obstinacy, and, as some would argue, stupidity.

Earlier this past summer most of the Clarksdale area received a critical rain in July after a prolonged hot, dry spell – just in time to save many crops in the field. The summer was the second hottest on record after the disastrous 1980 and portended a potential repeat disaster. However, because of the aforementioned timely rain, the result was a local cotton crop bigger than expected in a year in which cotton plantings were up. Now, you may not believe that the stodgy and stoic stewards of stalk have the capacity for “gettin jiggy wid it”, as my fellow worker terms it, but I am convinced that on that day many ball-capped and booted ones were dancing about fields like Gene Kelly, soon to be under the influence of hops and barley.

Besides Memphis, rain has to be the most evocative and sung-about entity in modern music. The dozens of songs about rain in the last half century are testaments to man’s deep emotional connection to life’s basic building block. One of the most popular tunes today (Luke Bryan) is a catchy, yet somewhat illogical song called “Rain Is a Good Thing”. It goes,

“Rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey
Whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky
Rain is a good thing”

What? There seems to be a break in the causal chain. Otherwise, “Honey, don’t look outside but I think it’s raining.” Wink wink.
Here is a personal favorite rain song (Jo Dee Messina) about adversity and perseverance
called “Bring on the Rain”.


On the day of the big rain in July, I texted my wife, “RAIN!”. She was thrilled but unsurprised, as she said I am followed by a rain cloud over my head at all times and in all places. Sigh. Tread lightly people; tread lightly.

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  1. man i love your blog! keep on keeping on..

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