Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rambling on the Island of Dry

So here we are. October is nearly half over, and the seasons have quietly shifted. The trees, stressed for much of the summer, were graying with age as the leaves dried out. So I couldn't help but be startled by the bright yellow glow on the ash tree outside the bathroom window.

I have been distracted, to be sure, these last few weeks. But not sorry. It's mostly been good. A Sunday afternoon art show, complete with modest sales and mystified lookers. Educational, both ways. I enjoy answering the questions (you have sheep!), and talking with the crowd gives me insight to the perspective of the non sheepish. And of course there is always much work to be done. Fencing and feed, fleece and seed.

I'm done with summer. The thin ice on the tank was almost welcome. A friendly fire for the evening and a warm wool blanket for the bed at night still comfort a modern shepherd. But, alas, something is still missing - the gently patter of rain.

Thats right. We are still stuck here in an island of dry. Oh, its rained all right.  Rained to the north. Showers to the South. Even a decent amount to the East, which only adds to a farmers frustrations. It would seem that our urban neighbors still just don't get it. An inch of rain on their lawns, and they believe hard times are over. Ha.  Maybe next year, when they got to the store, they will remember the warnings. But probably not.  Uh-oh, I'm already starting to sound a little cynical, and I really don't want to. Whining is still a waist of time and effort, and none of us have any to spare. After all, things will get better. It will rain again. Somewhere. Meanwhile, I finally broke down and watered the lawn, hoping for a brief return of green relief to ensure its survival of winter.

I suppose I was in a sort of mood like this when I went for a walk the other night. The leaves were in the first yellow blaze, and the sun was already beginning its set when I grabbed my camera and set out the back lane for the meadow.... pasture.... creek.   Gosh, I'm still not sure what to call it. The Grass, maybe.

Dolly, of course, was close behind... out front... all over. She clearly loves having more room to roam. Come, walk with us.

                                       The sun was setting on the trees along the lane to the north.

                         The leaves hung limply in the still evening air, turning golden like ripening fruit.

 The shadows had already reached the trees by the time I approached the far hill. Too late for good pictures, but beautiful and refreshing all the same. I watched the darkness creep across the field, and noticed the darker green line in the grass. Don noticed it the next day, while we worked on the fence. "Why is the grass taller there, and there".... he pointed to along the tree line. I gave my answer, having pondered before. "It's the shade line. Morning..... afternoon..."  The difference was profound.

 The chill was noticeable, and with the light fading fast, I started back. I passed a milk weed just opening its pod. Frail fluffy white beauty in the moment, to be hated next spring.

 Golden green and orange brown drifts of leaves were collecting in the safe harbor of the gully under the cottonwood tree.  And then, if my soul had not yet been refreshed enough, I found this....

 It was weeks ago that we planted the fall pasture. Seeds of rye and rape and radish and turnip scattered into dust. The forecast of rain was forgone, and dust it remained. And yet, it grew. And weeks later, though it should have been thigh high and grazed short again by now, the tiny seedlings remain. The tenacity and resilience of nature continues to inspire me.

 I passed by the lambs, just to say, "Good evening".

With the summer we've had, the fall color may be short lived. But for now, at least it makes for pleasant,  peaceful chores.

Thanks for coming with me. I feel better again. The stress of coping with the drought has more than me a little short on patience and enthusiasm. I just keep reminding myself of those tiny little sprouts soaking up dew and waiting. Waiting for more.  While I, on the other hand, already have much.  Much more, this week.

Namely, little Maxwell Simon McClure, who joined the family on Oct. 2. A healthy little potential helper at 9 lb 12 oz, our 4th grandchild, and the first male of the generation born to carry the McClure family name.

So at least we are not alone on the isle of dry. And the wool and the radishes comfort me. I will wait a little longer for the rain. While I watch the oak trees take their turn with color. Already the ashes have dropped their leaves into pools of yellow at their feet.

Enough words for today. There is a fire glowing in the stove, its warmth softly calling. And a forecast with mention of rain come weekend. Only chances, but I will wait.

I'll believe it when I hear it. On the roof.

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