Last week when we received the first rainshower in what seemed like months I noted something I hadn’t thought about for some time … my truck needs new windshield wipers. While I already new that, as of late it just didn’t seem like a major concern. I think we should all — atheist and agnostics included — say a collective “Thank you God for the rain”.
As we all know things were getting dangerously, scarily dry around here. Like other folks, I enjoyed not having to mow the grass as often, but I was starting to wonder if the ground cover was past the point of ever coming back once we eventually got some moisture. I’d look out at my backyard and picture it as a scene from one of those Dust Bowl photos from the 1930s, the water of the swimming pool appearing like an optical illusion, a mirage, in a vast desert landscape. Grass shouldn’t “crunch” when you walk across it.
Three times in the past couple weeks I heard older people talking of “if it gets any drier I’m afraid the trees are gonna die.” During even normal drought periods around here there’s no concern about mature trees falling prey. But on occasion our region has seen drought to the extent of permanently harming entire stands of mature timber. Let’s hope no permanent damage was done this time.
Of course, the dry conditions didn’t do any favors for those of us who enjoy wild blackberries. Like other berries, blackberries need a deluge of moisture right at the end of ripening to mix with the naturally-occuring sugars and “plump up” the fruit. This year’s berries have been pretty puny.
Always trying to make lemonade out of lemons, I told my wife that if it got much drier and the grass in the yard went completely away it would almost be like living on the beach — bright sun, hot and with only a fine powder under foot. Her reply was that it wouldn’t be the same without the crashing ocean waves and salty air. Even with a workshop full of tools and a true redneck “I can fix anything with duct tape” can-do attitude, I still couldn’t’ figure out how to make ocean waves and salty air. Any attempt would have likely been the equivalent of Coca-Cola’s 1985 introduction of “New Coke”. In some cases there’s just nothing like the real thing.
But the scattered showers of the past week have given at least a little new life to the landscape. Our old seemingly dead lawn has started to take on an grassy hue. The weeds are growing again … woohoo! And the tomatoes, zucchini and other garden goodies are thriving without lengthy daily drinks from the well.
I’ve yet to hear what, if any, effect the dry spell will have on this year’s mast crop. I know the drought dwindled farm ponds and creeks significantly … which couldn’t have been good for wild animals relying on such water sources.
But we’ve seemingly made it through, at least the worst of it, I hope. I can’t wait to enjoy the remainder of summer and then turn thoughts to fall hunting outings on cool autumn days.
Doug Smith lives in an old house, drives an old truck, tinkers with old tractors, is married to a young woman, hunts and fishes often, and can be found on any given day wearing his Buffalo plaid flannel jacket and matching Elmer Fudd hat (… and he’ll readily admit he’s built for winter, not for summer.)