Coffee. Good, strong coffee is one of the simple pleasures in life. I donít mean the hurry-up-and-gulp-it-down-so-I-can-face-the-morning-commute kind of coffee. And I sure donít mean the tepid, weak, tasteless brown liquid that passes for coffee in most offices.† And while Iím at it, I donít mean the wonderfully delicious but extremely expensive concoctions made at a coffee shop. No, Iím talking about a good cup of morning coffee made and enjoyed leisurely at home. I am a bit persnickety about that morning cup. It has to be brewed fresh and be hot and strong with just a touch of real cream or half & half to mellow it out. It is a ritual of mine to enjoy that brewed cup of natureís bounty outside while watching the day begin. As a Master Naturalist it is one way for me to combine two things I dearly love: observing wildlife and drinking that strong cup of joe.

Now, I know we are supposed to remember the Psalm: ďThis is the day the Lord has made. Let us be happy and rejoice in it.Ē And I try. I really do try to do that every day. But after a stretch of 100 plus degree days and the ongoing drought making it hard for the trees and pastures and creatures to survive, it is hard to remember to rejoice in each day. I tell myself that things will change and that this is just a typical summer in Texas. But the reality is that summer days in Texas are hard on man and beast alike and there is just no getting around it.

But there are days when change does happen. Today is one of those days. I walked out this morning to cool air and a light rain. I had heard it rain off and on all night and there is nothing that makes a country boy sleep better than hearing it rain on a metal roof. I took my morning cup of coffee with me as I walked out to our whiz-bang, officially certified CoCoRaHS rain gauge. (For all you weather interested folks out there I urge you to look up CoCoRaHS and get involved if you are so inclined. You will find it a fun activity.) †

Anyway, this super-duper rain gauge measures moisture down to the hundredths of an inch. Recently we have had nothing to report. But I knew today would be different and I enjoyed every step I took out to the gauge. Playing the mind game I always do, I asked myself about how much rain it would take to ďmake me happy.Ē ďIf we could at least get a half inch out of this rain event, it would sure help the pastures.Ē That is my normal mantra. But today was different. I wanted three quarters of an inch. As I got closer, my Master Naturalist heart began to beat a little faster. I put my cup on the flat top of a nearby fence post and carefully checked the gauge. In a twenty four hour period and at precisely 7:45 in the morning, we had received 1.58 inches of rain! In July! With rain still coming down and a chance of rain the next day! Did I mention it was July in Texas?

Like a demented man I just stood there in the rain and was happy and thankful for this day that the Lord had made. And as my carefully crafted cup of coffee was cooled down and diluted with this blessing, I didnít even care.

If you, too, are passionate about nature and wild things and enjoy learning, why donít you consider joining the Indian Trail Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists?† Check out our website (http://txmn.org/indiantrail/.) for meetings and information.† We would love to have you.†

Do you think nature should be part of our everyday life, not just somewhere to go on the weekends?† You are invited to attend our free, open-to-the-public, monthly program on the fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the†

Red Oak Library, 200 Lakeview Pkwy, Red Oak.

†For more information on the Indian Trail Master Naturalist Chapter, contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 972-825-5175 or visit the club website: † http://txmn.org/indiantrail/.†

Dan Rayfield is a certified Texas Master Naturalist and a member of the Indial Trail Chapter.