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Mr. Smarty Plants - Rainfall for Central Texas

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Monday - July 20, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seasonal Tasks
Title: Rainfall for Central Texas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What dance will produce abundant rainfall in Central Texas?

ANSWER:

While, strictly speaking, this falls out of the range of our expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, it nevertheless is of concern that the native plants (and everybody else) are drying up and desperately needing a little wet help. We have searched for rain dances in arid areas, which we are right now, and found the following, with instructions and costume:

Rain Dance of Zuni Pueblo - conducted on August 19th at Zuni Pueblo. Possibly you could contact them and inquire if they could include a few steps for Central Texas?

About the Indian Rain Dance - from EHow, by Ann Johnson

From a YouTube video on the Indian Rain Dance, we also picked up this unattributed quotation:

"The rain dances were never done to bring rain. The Native American Indians were so in touch with nature and the planet that they could feel the energy brewing before rain storms; therefore, they would celebrate the coming of the rains with dance and singing."

Along these same lines, we were recently asked about the folklore that the blooming of Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) is forecasting possible rains, as the Cenizo is blooming abundantly in Austin right now. Quoting from that answer:

"We had heard the same tale that blooming on a Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) was a predictor of rain; however, our observation was that they were much more likely to bloom AFTER a rain, rather than before. We searched around for someone more expert than we are to tell us the truth. The consensus is that this flowering is triggered by high humidity or soil moisture after it rains. If there is a lot of humidity in the air, even if it hasn't rained yet, that can cause blooming too. This plant can bloom intermittently 12 months of the year, and is really a tough desert plant. Apparently, there has been a lot of humidity in the Austin area lately, although who could believe it, with the heat?  So, does all the blooming around Austin (and we have noticed it, too) portend rain? We can only hope." So, maybe the Indians are on to something: the Rain Dance is not a cause, it is an effect. 

Finally, out of the mouths of babes: Here is How To Do a Rain Dance from the students at the Middleton Cross Plains (Wisconsin) school district. Two of the links no longer work, but the instructions are very specific.

 

 

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