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How high's the water, mama?

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Floodwaters in the Arkansas community where Johnny Cash was born. From 2009.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – A few days after seeing a fantastic photo of a dust devil swirling on the surface of Mars, taken by the Mars Rover Opportunity, I had my own “Dust Devil Dream,” but it did not take place in a dusty, arid place like the Martian surface. No towering vortex of wind here.

A dust devil dances in the Martian valley below. (NASA/JPL/Cornell/CalTech)

No, this was the opposite. A wet place. Very wet.

It’s a familiar place, at least in the geography of my dreamscapes. A rocky place with lots of trees, very similar to places in western North Carolina or in the Ozarks of Arkansas. And yet it was neither of those places. I saw old faces. Old cars I had once driven. And lots and lots of roaring, rushing water. It seems to be the return of the water dreams.

Yes, here is a lot going on in this dream and it all seems to be taking place along this river, which is actually rising. It’s raining and flooding and it’s rising.

I’m in a building. A house of some sort – as I often am in these dreams – and things are happening very quickly. I am with my younger brother and sister and we end up in a portion of the building which is a mobile home attached to the main building right along the riverbank. And the river is an absolute torrent as it rises ever higher and sweeps the mobile home – with me and my brother and sister still inside – into the river.

The sensation in my dream state was very palpable. I was unstable as the water batted the floating trailer against rocks. I was in a panicked state, as were my siblings. I debated on whether to jump out in a relatively shallow area or just ride it out as it headed for bigger rocks and what appeared to be a waterfall.

It was during this that I sensed a presence in the mobile home as it floated along in a most peculiar way. It was Johnny Cash. The “Man in Black.” An angelic being all in black. A protector. It would later dawn on me that Johnny was directing me to listen to his 1959 song “Five Feet High and Rising” (rap pioneers De La Soul sampled the song on their album 3 Feet High and Rising in 1989). 

In the song, Dyess, Arkansas native Cash, who experienced the great flood of 1937 and inspired that song. In it, Cash explains that his mama taught him that “good things come from adversity if we put our faith in the Lord.” And that while the flood was bad, the flood replenished the soil. And that fall, the Cash family would produce a bumper cotton crop

Of course this all happens right after I learned of the death of country music legend Merle Haggard, who had been a good friend and musical collaborator with Cash. In fact, a few years ago, Haggard recorded a song with Willie Nelson (I saw Willie, Merle and the late Ray Price) title “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash.”  “It broke my heart, to see him go,” Haggard sings on the song. Now they are together again, at that big Opry in the sky. (NOTE* After playing "Five Feet High and Rising" on YouTube, it went to the Mississippi River-loving song "Big River," synchromystically enough, considering the next section of this Dust Devil Dreams post ...)

Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash were good friends for many years.


In June 1993 I was working as a camp counselor at a summer camp in western Michigan. It was fairly remote, back in the woods and not far from Lake Michigan. I wasn’t keeping up with the news as I usually did.

One morning, I awoke in my cabin after having a very intense “flood dream.” I was looking down on the central United States, particularly Missouri and Illinois, and  could see the Mighty Mississippi River flooding over its banks. It was a muddy, murky and destructive mess. Big River, indeed!

A little later, I went to a small store in a community nearby (frequented by the Cheers actor George “Norm” Wendt, interestingly enough) and picked up a newspaper. The headline was about persistent rainfall and serious flooding on the Mississippi River. It was the first I had really heard about it. It was as if my astral body left and went on a trip over that area of the country and surveyed the situation. This was the beginning of the Great Flood of 1993.


Synchomystically, I should also mention that we had an unusual event here in the offices of Red Dirt Report. Lots and lots of bees showed up coming through the walls and the cieling. They were friendly and buzzing and doing their "bee thing." It was more an annoyance in that they were near the front entrance of the office and I'd hate to have anyone stung. We made calls to get the bees removed - humanely. We seemed to be on the path to doing that and that today it would be taken care of.

But upon arriving to the office this morning, most of the bees were dead. What killed them? Lack of food? Poison? Something else? It worried me because of the declining bee populations and colony collapse. A story out of China says people are now pollinating flowers because the bee population has declined significantly. The bees must be protected.

Dead bee corpses on the floor of Red Dirt Report. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

As Johnny Cash sang in a verse on "Five Feet High and Rising": "Well the hives are gone / I've lost my bees / The chickens are sleepin' in the willow trees / Cow's in water up past her knees / Three feet high and risin'"

I sense the Man in Black was trying to relay a message. I will certainly be paying attention.

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About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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