News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle
January 14, 2021
Rain and Boredom
Wahkiakum County is one of the rainiest places in the nation with an annual accumulation of over 94 inches compared with the national average of 38 inches of rain annually. There are on average 126 sunny days per year in Wahkiakum County. With that in mind the question I have been periodically asked by newcomers is what one can do when it is raining all the time. For many of the area farmers nothing really changes except everything including the cows get wet. The local businesses that are open get busy, yet some who are older and children get bored.
Some of us who are older have found ways to occupy our time because we are busy doing things we enjoy. I am reminded of the many artists such as Noreen Fitts, Kristo Novoselic, and Carol Ervest in the Westend who have spent countless hours perfecting their craft. The rain just gives them an excuse to paint while other families’ children stare aimlessly out the windows pondering the things they could be doing if it was not for the rain. Many of the children on the Westend have had their school from home and in Naselle they have just returned to classes so now most of their time will be involved with school work and chores. The question arises still as what to do with a lot of down time. Watch television? What if the power goes out? What can we do during the day?
Not everyone has the desire to paint and may have a tendency to get just as bored as the children partly because they come from an area that does not get nearly as much rain and this becomes somewhat of a culture shock to some. I have talked to several people new to the community who came from the southwest and were shocked that there were so many portable coffee wagons everywhere from Cathlamet to Astoria. They saw that the coffee wagons were as common as the taco trucks in many of the southwestern cities they had visited. These newcomers expressed to me the initial surprise at so many coffee stops until the rain overwhelmed them enough to make them see that coffee and the rain appear to work together.
The conversation ended with them asking me about what I did as a child to entertain myself during times of thunder storms and power outages. I began to remember the game my father and mother had us play as a family. Some of these games are still played here in the Westend as a tradition that has gone on for possibly more than a century brought to us here by our pioneering families. We are not talking about board games like Monopoly, chess, checkers, or card games, but those games where everyone in the family is involved.
The one traditional game that is still enjoyed by elderly couples and large families is “Hide the Thimble." My father or my mother would hide the thimble or in many cases when we were young they would hide a spool of thread. The game is played by the same rules.
For those who do not know what a thimble is a thimble is a small pitted cup worn on the finger that protects it from being punctured by a needle while sewing. The ancestor of thimble, the Old English word þymel, is derived from Old English þyma, the predecessor of the English word ‘thumb.’ Whether you are old or young, this game will delight you during this nasty covid-19 pandemic nightmare. The idea is to have every one leave the room while one person hides the thimble in the room in plain sight. That person tells everyone to come back in and quietly try to find the thimble. When they see it they say, “I spy!” and then whisper into the ear of the one who hid the thimble as to its location. When everyone finds it or they give up then another one gets to hide the thimble for the rest to find. For all those elderly couples they can just take turns. I realize there are more and possibly more fun games than this one; however, try it sometime and you may find that during a rainy day you may find it easier with rain and boredom.