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Rain is not always a good thing

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Contrary to Luke Bryan's song, rain is not always a good thing. The town of Ardmore, Oklahoma, where the Noble Research Institute is located, has received its annual amount of rainfall in the past nine weeks. The first rains started in the beginning of May, and they ended with Tropical Storm Bill, which decided to take residence in Ardmore for about 12 or so hours.

Since my arrival on Memorial Day to the Noble Research Institute, I have had numerous farm visits, field trials, and days out on the farm canceled or postponed because of the rains. Lake Texoma was over the Roosevelt Bridge southwest of Madill, Oklahoma. The Red River, which is generally calmly running and easily wadable was threatening to cross the Red River I-35 bridge, which is generally towering above the river by 40 feet. Before I left home to head to Ardmore, I was told numerous times that I needed a boat in order to get around. I didn't take much heed to this advice, though I almost needed to.

Wednesday, June 17, I left early from work to go grab some groceries before the Tropical Storm Bill hit. I turned out of the Noble Research Institute parking lot onto Sam Noble Parkway heading back into Ardmore. After two closed roads, and a couple of streets at which I stopped and looked both ways to see if the Ark was crossing before following suit, I decided that groceries were not high on the priority list. I drove home, ran up the stairs into my apartment, and took a seat on the couch to watch the storm roll through. Garth Gatson, my roommate and another ag scholar, came in a few minutes later, dripping with water.

"You got an umbrella?" he asked. I said, "Yeah, I do."

"Right where we pull into the apartments is closed, and the water is pouring in quick. Wanna go exploring?" he said. I slipped on a rain jacket and some flip flops; we grabbed umbrellas and were out the door.

pizza delivery man in rain
When we left the apartment, as we were heading down the stairs, we saw a pizza delivery man run by. We laughed at the notion of him delivering a pizza in this, and then when we got to the street, we figured out that he had actually waded across street.

Little did we know the umbrellas were a waste. When I pulled into the parking lot, the water at its deepest was 8 inches. As Garth and I waded our way in 20 minutes later, it reached our knees. The residents in the house across the road from Highland Park were watching in awe as the city maintenance closed the road on both sides, the water level rose to threaten pouring through their house, and two out-of-staters were exploring in the street, now pond. The cones that the city had put out to indicate the closing of the road had floated down about 150 feet to where we were. Garth and I grabbed the cones, which were almost covered in water at this point, and carried them back up to "dry" land.

After having our fun, we made our way back down the street. The water level was still on the rise, so we exited the "pond" and made our way back to the apartment, where we dried off and enjoyed the rest of the day in the comfort of our warm, dry apartment.

Vaughn Reed is a 2015 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture from Greenville, Kentucky.