‘The Day the Rains Came’

by Shannon Lee Mannion

I love that song so eloquently sung by Jane Morgan in 1958. Hummed it all day on Tuesday when I joined a cluster of friends, neighbours and strangers who assembled on the bank of the Mississippi River, feet from the roiling water, and we sandbagged.

Rest assured, not one person under-performed as per the Urban Dictionary definition of sandbagging, for we sandbagged for hours for all we were worth.

With rain and melting snow, the river is expected to peak on Thursday but this could change with an unexpected deluge or, did someone say they saw snow in the forecast for the end of the week? These flakes would be an unwelcome sight.

The thing that struck me as people came and went from the congregation of sandbaggers is who came to pitch in. Most were not spring chickens. Of course not, they would’ve been at work, otherwise.

But a young man came for an hour and wheeled the barrow to the verge and positioned the bags; he left but said he’d be back. There was a couple from Packenham; how’d they know to come? And a genteel ex-music teacher who certainly put his shoulder to the boulder and got a soaker doing it.

A stranger passing on his bicycle on the bridge, noticed the work detail and he helped, ditto, the neighbour up the street who despite health concerns which would have precluded most from shifting from their living room, shovelled, bagged and tied with the best. There was a teenager who carried two bags at once, her long brown hair swinging as she picked them up and deposited them on the other side of the sand pile. Men from the neighbourhood got to expand their engineering skills in sandbag wall-building.

And if we forgot for the moment that April showers bring May flowers, all was not lost for we pitched in with strength, humour and goodwill to help fellow residents endure.

And if any of us did not realize it at the time, we do now; there is no better feeling in the world than to know that one has made a difference.