It crept in on us quietly, as all dry spells do. The signs were there all along, but just last week I began to notice the serious ones. The small clouds of dust rising around boot and paw with a mere walk across the yard as Don and Dolly on their way to get the ewes in for the night.
The heat has been oppressive, but we managed one more post hole. The heavy auger only 10 days before had easily bored through sod and soil, now groaned and slipped, slicing slowly through the hard clay, and it took several drops to reach the required depth. The sight of the small pile of dusty ground surrounding the black hole raised eyebrows, and an exchange of looks. Not even enough dirt to set the post.
So when the opportunity arose to take a painting job, I did. Hard work, but in air conditioning. And cash to buy more hay. So the last week or so has been on a time schedule. Work, water, home, move the water. Rescue the wilting. Keep the tanks full. Do what you have to do.
I admit I dislike these discouraging times. Times when the balance of sun and wind and water gets all out of wack, and with it the spirits and resolve of the people who must live with and in it. But to whine is a waste of time.
If you choose to live on and off the land, as farmers do, you must come to both expect and respect it. It's just a cycle, like all of life. We humans tend to like schedules and predictability. Mother Earth prefers spontaneity and surprise.
Then this morning, I went to get water for coffee. And in the view from the kitchen sink, this is what I saw. An island oasis of green surrounded by a sea of dry grass.
A closer inspection is more telling of the true abundance. Tomatoes, 6 feet tall and rising, and heavy with clusters of fruit (but resisting the turning to red). Peppers and eggplant dripping with tentacles of yellow and purplish black. Beans challenge the neighboring zinnias in a contest of bloom and beauty. Thanks to the water.
So to keep on the positive side, in this season of dryness, I choose gratitude. Thanks to the well men who came when called, and laid needed new pipe and hydrants. Thankfulness for the water deep under the dust.
I appreciate that water. Perhaps more than most. Because I grew up on the edge of the sand hills, and early learned of its silent life-giving presence beneath. And now the threats to that water are growing by pipelines, pollution, and politics. And whether it comes from above or below, it is essential to all of us.
As my Mother often said, quoting my grandmother no doubt, 'This to shall pass.' In but a few short months it is now predicted, we may be lamenting the cold and snow. Because we are human, and it is our very nature to go against our 'Mother.
Pray for rain, if you are so moved. Your prayers will be answered in time. I will lift my glass, now filled to the brim, with clear, cold, water, in gratitude. And the AC. While I watch the western skies with hope, and humbly wait for the rain. Because I am a farmer.
May the rain soon fall softly on your fields, and replenish your hearts.