First, let me say thank you to all who supported my art fundraiser and helped me raise $500 for our local food pantry, CORA. Well done, and much gratitude to each of you.
Now… It’s August 11th, and I’m sitting here on my back deck in the early morning hours, watching and listening as the birds and bees and butterflies begin to stir in the yarden. I’ve been out here every morning lately, noticing and appreciating all the goodness and abundance of life here on this little patch of land. But one thing is missing – and its especially noticeable in the hours around dawn and dusk – there are no mosquitoes…because there has been no rain.
I’m dumbfounded each day as I watch the news and see flooding in so many places, while we wait and beg for rain. The ground is dry, cracked, hard. I wonder at the resilience of the tender young native plants we have tried to nurture during the past three summers. They are – despite a lack of rain – blooming, fruiting, providing nourishment and shelter for hundreds of species of bugs and birds and worms and other life forms. We have had so little rain this year – neither during the winter, nor this spring and summer. We watch as storms literally brush past us, thunder and lightning booming, wind whipping, but no raindrops fall. And to top things off, temperatures have been in the 90’s for weeks and weeks.
The yard grass is crunchy in places, but the native grasses are strong and resilient. The vegetable garden and ornamental flowers need water, but the natives we’ve worked so hard to bring to this space are surviving, even thriving, in spite of the lack of water. It is a testament to those species that evolved here, that are native to this place, that, once established, thrive in spite of adverse conditions. They are the true survivors.
In an ironic twist of Fate, raindrops have begun to fall on my laptop as I type this. Today is our best chance for rain in a long time – and for a long time to come. We are hopeful, but skeptical. The forecasts have over-predicted rain chances almost daily – at least for this little patch of the earth planet. A minute after I stepped inside to get out of the rain, it stopped. Of course it did! Sometimes I think about ways to make it rain. I cross my fingers. I send up a prayer. I offer a gift to the Rain Gods, none of which go so far as to include human sacrifices like those allegedly performed by the Mayans, mind you.
It is hard sometimes to not feel like the victim and say, “Why us, why won’t it rain here?”. Then, I look around again and see the tiger swallowtails – dozens of them – flying from flower to flower to get nectar. I see a squirrel munching on seeds under the bird feeders. I see and hear downy woodpeckers, chipping sparrows, bluebirds, Carolina wrens, goldfinches all hunting for a nibble of breakfast and a treat to feed their young ones. The Queen Anne’s lace, Bidens, and butterflyweed seedpods are opening and spilling out seeds, and tempting the birds and bugs to make a meal of them. Gratitude wins. Life goes ’round. We carry on. And every now and then, we get a sprinkle of hope.
My observations in the yarden are simply that – observations. They are what is happening now. Neither good nor bad, and never permanent. Nothing remains the same. In a few moments I will observe something else, and it, too, will pass on by through time. This drought, this dryness will pass. The plants will either live or die. The animals will adapt or move on. And my mood surrounding it all will change like the wind. When you are a part of something, you feel what it feels. I am a part of this land, and I feel its thirst in my bones. I am a sister to the plants and the animals. I feel the stress they feel. We are connected, a part of each other. Life is this. Connection. Abundance. Scarcity. Cycles. Flow. But also… Love. Wonder. Pain. Ecstasy. Magic.
Water is what makes life on Earth possible. The threat of not having enough or of not having safe, clean water can be terrifying. But too much of it in the wrong place or in a short span of time can be devastating, too. We are existing in a pattern of extremes, it seems. Too much water here, not enough there. Either way, it impacts all of us. There’s a 40% chance for rain here today. That’s a 60% chance it won’t. Hmmm. The mosquitoes are still absent from my backyard, and, I never thought I’d say this, but I miss them.