Yes, we have had too much rain.

Yes, we have saturated soil.

Yes, I helped my husband get the lawnmower out of a major waterhole in our pasture. Mud and muck water all over the place.

So many problems have arisen from the days and days of rain.

Let me tell you a story about a couple stranded in their home for seven days. Jim and Viola Lee, of Paola fame, live south and east of town and are surrounded by numerous small creeks and tributaries of rivers that engulfed the roadway with water in front of their home, both to the north and south. No way in, and no way out.

There was no mail service or newspapers delivered.

I consider the Lees to be pretty rugged… sort of the pioneer-type, hardworking, dedicated farm folks. With the water still rising they discovered a bit of a challenge with the flood.

They had to get out of town to see their grandson in Texas graduate from high school.

The next part of this story you have to picture in your mind. No water was going to keep them an island forever.

Their solution? Their trusty canoe!

Like Clark and Marywether…. John Smith and Pocahontas… The Lees leapt into their trusty canoe, luggage and all, and paddled their way, like the Voyageurs of French Canada shooting the rapids, down the road to someone who would take them to the airport.

Upon returning from the weekend graduation visit, the water had not yet declined, so it was back in the canoe, luggage and all, to paddle their way back home.

Now THAT is what you can call an adventure on the back roads of Miami County.

I do wish to offer my commiserations to the millions of folks suffering from the horrendous floods that continue to hinder our state and our Midwest friends.

From the viewpoint of my house, I can complain only about sogginess and grass that cannot be mowed. That is pure chickenfeed in comparison to the people along the Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas Rivers and their tributaries. My lands! What a mess!

Add to that the tornadoes passing near us and leveling homes and lives within a blink of an eye. The devastation left by those turbulent, wicked and brutal storms makes me shake in my boots each and every time one is mentioned.

I appreciate the kindheartedness of others who reached out to assist those in need. Butch Walters and his son, Dustin, did just that, and I admire them greatly for their thoughtfulness.

If you are thinking of heading out to Hillsdale Lake for a weekend retreat, you will have to reconsider your plans. The boat ramps are all closed. The beach is also off limits, and all campgrounds are under water.

Kansas Wildlife and Parks reports that the above-mentioned places around the lake will possibly open in mid-July. Goodness me!

The only boats on the lake are from the marina.

The lake is presently 13 feet over the normal lake level. The Corps of Engineers is not releasing water at this time.

I recommend you take a drive over the dam to view the lake at this level. Many of the “normal” trees and recognizable points of interest are surrounded or underwater.

Jim Bell was out the other day with some inspectors on a monthly checkup of the dam. The Corps has had 24-hour surveillance on the levels and excess water. They have been super busy!

Clinton Lake, Melvern, Pomona and Lake Perry are all in the same boat… a figure of speech that popped into my mind as I was typing this.

Gardening this year has been a challenge for me.

After all the rain the top soil was hard as the highway. I went out with my mighty hoe and shovel in attempt to turn over the soil to plant some new vegetables lost in the weeks of rain. I got about three feet and considered it a lost cause. Mission impossible!

I was quite sad and a tad irritated that nothing else would grow but the bazillion little maple trees that were blown in on little helicopter blades. (Last year, if you remember, mimosas were my garden plague.) The mini saplings were all about 6 feet tall and were everywhere. UGH!

Enter my very kind neighbor, Brian B., with a monster rototiller who came to the rescue. I added peat moss, and finally I have some soil that is softer and more workable. I am a joyful gardener now.

I started planting with my 18-year-old cat, Sky, sauntering along with me up and down the rows. Her company is such a pleasure. She is a wise ol’ gal and, I believe her to be a master gardener in her own right.

Watching me sweat and bend are my two dear granddaughters, sitting in beach chairs, in the shade, eating apples. Hmmmm. I do love the outdoors.

Beth Conner is a Miami County resident, teacher and outdoor enthusiast.

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