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Lloyd Omdahl, Published September 04 2011

Omdahl: Summer of 2011 gets failing grade

Labor Day seems to mark a division between summer and fall even though the calendar doesn’t figure it that way. Anyway, it’s a good time to look back and evaluate what should be the best season of the year.

This has not been a good summer, which is more than a mere disappointment. For someone running out of summers, it’s a catastrophe. If I would have had this summer in my college class, I would have given it a D-. In fact, all of North Dakota would have given it a D-.

First, there was the sopping wet spring. It was so wet that my first two plantings of tomatoes sat in the mud and died. My third planting had better be biennials because they won’t be ready to produce until next year.

While none of the other vegetables made it to the county fair, the cucumbers went wild. This was indeed the year of the cucumber. But one can eat only so many cucumbers, and even that is too many.

Then there were the farmers. With market prices sky high, this was the year for them to make a real killing on the north forty, pay off the mortgage and spend an extra month in Florida. But the water-soaked fields kept millions of acres from being planted, depriving farmers, main street and Phoenix of unprecedented prosperity.

The water problems did not end on the farms. It was worse in towns. Folks in our urban areas were scrambling as the Mouse flooded Minot, the Missouri threatened Bismarck, the Red gave Fargo a scare, and the James put Jamestown in a dither. Even semi-arid Medora saw a few sandbags.

Sales of Zantac in Devils Lake have been going up more rapidly than the lake as the city fathers try to figure out how to fight the rising water. (For months, a really old man has been building a huge boat near Minnewaukan.) All of the folks down the Sheyenne River share the concern over the irrepressible Devils Lake, knowing that all overage will travel through their backyards on the way to Canada.

Only the frogs will chalk up Summer 2011 as a winner.

It was a bad summer for the Minnesota Twins, too. Coach Ron Gardenhire found out that his bullpen was full of heifers. Not only that, his stars turned out to be comets that flamed out on impact. And the starting pitchers were just that: starters.

Since Medicare wasn’t available for most players, the team found it cheaper to buy their own ambulance. By the end of the season, all the Twins had was a bunch of strangers on the field. It got so bad Jim Thome went back to Cleveland, and you can’t do that without taking a lot of aspirin.

This darkest of Minnesota seasons wore on Gardy. He became irritable and combative. He even argued with the umpires over the size of the diamond so he could get thrown out of the game and go watch “Jeopardy.”

No, this is not the kind of summer we want to see again. Let’s hope this wet cycle is a cycle and not a permanent part of Earth warming. But they are already saying that next spring is going to be another wet one. If that is true, I hope that old man at Minnewaukan hurries with his boat. I’ll help round up the animals.


Omdahl is a former North Dakota lieutenant governor and a retired University of North Dakota political science teacher. Email ndmatters@q.com.