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“A Washer Woman’s Request”

Terry ShapiroHurricane Debby swamped the Florida gulf coast yesterday and today. If newscasters are right, and Lord knows that’s damn unlikely, she’ll be dumpin’ another two feet by this time tomorrow. My beloved Aunt Thelma Mae lives in the panhandle and I’m a little worried ’bout her. But this ain’t her first rodeo. At 87, she’s ridden the wild bull a few times.


Don’t seem hardly fair! I sit here listenin’ to the cicadas ratchetin’, knowin’ why they say ladies glow in the south. A thin film of sweat on my arms shines bright in the moonlight. Another hot dry night here in paradise. I love Texas. Been here most of my life, and I’ll die here. I’ve ventured away a few times, always longin’ to come home. But lately, here in Austin we can’t buy a drop of rain to save our souls.


The deer ramble closer and closer, weighin’ their distrust of me against foragin’ for what little green there is. Tiny toads crick their song of lament barely audible under the buzzin’ of them ugly green monsters in the trees.


Rolling hills once covered with a cacophony of wild flowers now present oppressive brown crispies. Creeks that frolicked over limestone beds, now hide deep down to keep from boilin’ away. Towering oaks survivin’ hell and high water, now stand dead, their roots the shriveled fingers of an old washer woman. God awful cedars dot the countryside in their new role as kindlin’. Our beautiful lakes aren’t much more than frog ponds.


No it don’t seem right. Florida gets another gully washer and we get the hottest June day in history! One-oh-eight! We’re 8 years into a 5 year drought! Last year, when half of Texas lit up the night sky with orange flames, they told us that this summer it’d be better. Well, they’re wrong again.


It’s like God takes all the water we should be gettin’ and hoards it up ’til them people in Florida get too cocky about their perfect weather. Then He dumps it all on them. What I want to know is what we did to tick him off? I been told all my life that Texas is God’s country. The big sky of west Texas, the piney woods to the east, the oil-speckled beaches. It don’t matter what ya like, you can find it in Texas. Hell, we even get snow in panhandle in the winter. Where else can ya have people sleddin’ in the snow and swimming in the ocean on the same day?


Some people’ll tell ya that the reason we ain’t gettin’ rain, is ‘cos Austin is too liberal. All us old hippies down here are the problem. That’s what the good ole boys in Dallas’ll tell ya. I don’t know a lot about that. I’ve witnessed the political pendulum swing back and forth a couple a times. Lord knows it’s only a matter of time till it swings back t’ other way again.


Meanwhile I’m sittin’ here, wishing I had some of Aunt Thelma Mae’s sweet Southern tea, selfishly praying for another hurricane to come into the gulf and hit the shore at the right place to bring a frog strangler this way!


– Teri Shapiro, Austin Attorney

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