|What drought looks like; one of our ponds slowly disappearing.|
Looking back over my blog and at my garden journal (my last entry was July 9 – the day Ike came into our lives), I realize that I haven’t had much to say about dirt lately. That might be because every plant in my perennial beds looks as if spent a few minutes under the broiler. Trees have prematurely lost their leaves; the cracks and splits in the pastures and gardens resemble miniature San Andreas Faults. Even the grasshoppers are having a tough time finding something green and succulent on which to feast. The brutal summer of 2011 has turned into a stingy, dry fall.
That’s why we got so excited two days ago. We’d been watching the forecast for days; anticipating a fairly strong chance at some rain over the weekend. Saturday afternoon the radar showed a gloriously huge system bloated with dark greens and ominous pinks coming our way. It stretched from Minnesota down into Texas – it couldn’t possibly miss! That morning I had planned to thoroughly water the flower beds, but decided to let Mother Nature do the heavy lifting. She does a much better job of really getting the water where it needs to go anyway. We made sure the rain gauge was up, took the lid off of the rain collection barrel, stowed the lawnmower and anything else that might get damaged in the deluge. By early evening brooding gray clouds hung low in the sky and the wind had picked up. Midway through our post-dinner walk with Ike, an even stronger breeze brought cool temperatures sweeping through and the air became heavy and smelled deliciously of moisture. We lingered outside, hoping to feel those first cold drops on our bare arms. We wouldn’t have minded at all getting soaking wet.
We went to bed fully expecting to be woken by the staccato of rain on the roof and booming thunder. At one point in the night I was sure I heard rain, but when we woke in the morning, it was as quiet as every morning has been for months. And though the grass was slightly wet – we did get a smattering of rain overnight – the rain gauge was stubbornly empty. Checking the radar once again we saw that the giant system, so promising, had given up its west-to-east course and drifted south, showering Texas. Texas badly needed it – I don’t begrudge them a single drop – but how I miss the sound and feel of rain!
Having grown up in the rain-and-snow-belt of northeastern Ohio, having had many a summer ruined by cold temperatures and gloomy skies, I’ve taken precipitation for granted – resented it more often than not as an annoyance and an inconvenience. Until we moved here, I’ve never looked forward to having rain come – to hoping that a predicted, measly 20% chance would somehow materialize into an all-day soaker to nourish and revive all the creatures that so depend on water – including us, even though we don’t have leaves and roots. I miss the feeling of warmth and safety one feels while watching a storm from the cozy interior of the house. Sunny days are treasures, no doubt about it, and blue skies are the blank canvas for daydreaming and thoughts of flight and freedom, but rain… Rain is a balm. Rain is what makes us appreciate the sun and empty skies.
(The pen really is mighty. Last night we had a steady, gentle rain that lasted for hours. The air is cool and clean. And the rain gauge this morning shows 1 ½”.)