Part of my summer job.
It’s coming up on 5 AM. I’m sitting in my RV, parked at the edge of a golf course in Quincy, WA, 1/4 mile away from where my helicopter is parked at an ag strip. I’m nursing a cup of coffee.
I’ve been up since 4 AM when I woke naturally, my brain using its built-in alarm clock to put my body on low alert. After all, there was rain in the forecast. If it rained overnight, the calls would start coming before dawn. If I wanted coffee in my body before I flew, I’d have to get up and make it before the calls came.
If they came.
On waking up, the first thing I did was reach for my iPad. (It, with my phone, is always within reach when I’m in bed here.) A few taps and WeatherBug was displaying local radar. The rain echoes were just to the southwest, moving my way. It was almost as if my brain had been watching the weather while I slept and knew the rain was coming.
While coffee brewed, I stepped outside into the predawn light. I could see the horizon in all directions. Low clouds, brightness to the east where the sun would soon rise. Later, back inside, as I sipped my coffee, WeatherBug would indicate that the rain was right on top of me and at least two of my orchards. Occasionally, my vigilance was rewarded with the sound of a few raindrops pattering on the roof of the RV.
I traded my nightshirt for a tank top, which is what I usually wear under my flight suit. I grabbed a pair of socks. Then I settled back into my comfy chair with my coffee.
I brewed a good cup this morning. Part of me hoped I’d get a chance to enjoy every drop in my 18 ounce mug. The other part of me hoped the phone would ring.
I was ready. I was waiting.
Oddly, I played a version of this game yesterday afternoon and evening. More radar echoes, but no rain. Still, it could come at any time. I spent the evening with my iPad, switching between an ebook, WeatherBug, and the National Weather Service Web site while texting back and forth with a pilot friend in the same situation 30 miles south. Had to keep the phone line open. When the sun set at 9 PM, I moved into the bedroom, finished the book I’d been reading, and went to sleep.
Six hours later, I was awake.
The sun is up now, hidden behind thick clouds to the northeast. I see rain falling out toward Moses Lake — no threat to any of my orchards. I’m waiting for the call that will launch me. I can be airborne in 15 minutes or less.
Will the call come? Who knows? That’s part of the game.