Rain In Fresno, ‘Kuut’ Girls, Spelling Tests

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, March 6, 2018

FRESNO, CA — The average annual rainfall here is 12 inches — almost all of it falling during the winter months.

It rained for three straight days while we were here last week. I took the grandsons outside Saturday as one of the storms approached on the chance they would experience hail for the first time.

It only rained, to my disappointment.

I had hoped they would feel ice pellets bouncing off their heads.

We walked half the way home from school in a surprise shower Friday before their mama rescued us.

“Papa, it’s raining,” they wailed.

“I know! It’s great!”

Sometimes, they wonder about me.

In consecutive weeks, Elizabeth and I have visited all the seven grandchildren spread from Durham to Virginia to California. We can rest now.

It still amazes me that I can wake up early one morning in Davie County and go to bed in California. Daniel Boone was born too soon.

Spring comes early in the San Joaquin Valley where our Californians live. We drove about 100 miles on a Blossom Tour on Saturday passing massive groves of flowering peach, apple, apricot, almond and other fruit trees. Orange trees hung heavy with fruit. We feasted on juicy oranges.

At a roadside cafe for lunch we met two genuine California cowboys. They had parked their cattle trailers outside, and we ate on the patio while serenaded by a chorus of moos. The cowboys wore handsome hats with bandanas around their necks. Fresh cow manure decorated their boots.

They were moving the cows to mountain pastures.

We drove through pancake flat valleys while surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

It is beautiful country.

The boys attend Reagan Elementary School, and a portrait of my favorite president hangs in the office lobby.

We also stopped at a large roadside fruit stand that had been visited by presidents. President Clinton’s signed portrait and letter are on display. I bought a quart of locally produced chocolate milk. With seven small cups we saluted California. The milk was wonderful.

• • • • •

The first grader told me he had a spelling test on Friday. To his dismay, I suggested we study the words together. On his first attempt, he only got half the words right.

He had written a love note to a girl in his class. “You are kuut.”

Girls are not impressed with love notes that contain misspelled words, I counseled. That is why spelling is so important. It’s not about spelling — it’s about winning girls.

Some of his words were “toast” and “coach.” We spelled and ate “toast” at breakfast on Friday morning, and I sent him off with some apprehension.

He burst out of the classroom waving his test paper that afternoon with a perfect score.

This week’s spelling list includes “cute.”

Little California girls are going to swoon when he writes them.

• • • • •

It hasn’t snowed here in 30 years. That doesn’t prevent the local population from driving about in very fine four-wheel drive pickups. Just in case. There are as many pickups per capita here  as in Davie County.

• • • • •

Stuck inside because of the rain, I watched Billy Graham’s beautiful and moving funeral. It was 9 a.m. in California during the noon service in Charlotte. At the boys’ school, a lunchroom volunteer learned we were from North Carolina and told us her husband loves NASCAR racing.

North Carolina’s two most famous native sons are Dale Earnhart and Billy Graham, I told her.

“Who’s Billy Graham, a singer?” she asked.

Unwashed people can be found everywhere.

With more time, I would have told her about Dean Smith, Richard Petty and Michael Jordan.