Delayed Gratification

“Dada, um… Dada is it raining again today?” asked the five-year-old who’d come to wake me.

“I don’t know man. You tell me.”

Little feet jumped to the floor and trotted to the window. I knew from the pause what his answer would be.

“Yeah… still raining,” he said finally, sounding too solemn for his age.

Wyoming’s climate is marked by extremes. The thermometer in my front yard registered a 131-degree swing last year – 106 to -25 in the course of five months. The wind gusts to hurricane speed on a regular basis, and wildfires spread smoke and ash around the northern Rockies every summer. We’re used to it.

But for all the meteorological volatility, weeks upon weeks of weepy grey clouds and daily rain like what we’ve seen this spring are vanishingly rare. My son had never gone so long without a sunny day.

“Awesome!” I said, hoping to break up the pity party before it got started. The strategy was aimed at myself as much as him. The rivers were a mess, and there was no end in sight to the nonnegotiable fishing hiatus. Staying off the water for long stretches is far from ideal for my mental health, even when I know it’s for the best.

“Hmph!” was all I got back. I considered the lack of a foot stomp a good sign.

“Yeah man, gotta love all this moisture. See how big and fast the creek is? All the rivers are getting a good spring-cleaning. That’s going to mean lots of big fish!”

“We’re going fishing?” he asked, suddenly hopeful.

“Well… no… not today,” I said, realizing my misstep a moment too late. “I mean when everything calms down… the habitat… “ I could see I was losing him. I quickly aborted my planned lecture on fat elk and bountiful pheasants. We needed a nearer term silver lining, stat. “If we hurry though I bet we can catch some night crawlers,” I tried. “And if we get a break in the clouds this afternoon, it’ll be hopper city out there!”

“This afternoon when?” demanded the little guy.

“I don’t know bud. We’ll have to wait and see.”

“Ok,” he agreed with a sigh.

Delayed gratification… yet another lesson best taught by Mother Nature.

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