Friday, July 27, 2012

No Excuses

OK.  It's been over a quarter of a year since I've written, or drawn, or photographed.  Actually, that's not true... Since early April, I've nature journaled and drawn -- though not much -- but I've done it.  I have no excuse, really, I just didn't feel like blogging, and it shouldn't be a chore, and then it had been so long I just didn't know how to go back... I still don't feel like scanning sketches, or taking photos.  But I've been thinking about jumping back into the blog and today... maybe I still have a reader or two.

This afternoon I ran through the rain.  I used to say I'd never run in the rain, that I didn't like running that much.  The change in attitude doesn't reflect a change in my attitude about running so much as a change in my attitude about rain.  Rain!  Just after Memorial Day, I spend a late May day hiking in the rain with forty 5-6th graders.  When I say hiking in the rain, I don't mean a sprinkle here or there.  I mean it poured from when we left at 9 am until we returned to our campsite at 4 pm.  I mean we were strategizing how to build our ark out of materials available in the forest in case the water never stopped coming down.  I mean that my fingers and toes turned to prunes and my raingear was breached before lunch and then I was just wet to the bone.  I mean we worried that we wouldn't have food for dinner because we had to cook it over a fire, and fires tend not to like water.  And I should mention that it was really fairly chilly, too... so I wished and wished that it would stop raining, and I could just be dry and warm.

Little did I know.  That was the last rain I saw for over a month.  In June, we got less than an inch, total, which came in just two afternoons with brief showers that hardly even soaked into the parched clay earth.  Every day the seven day forecast was "sunny, hot."

I recognize I don't need to tell anyone this.  The drought that's affecting more than half the country is all over the news, pictures of farmers inspecting crispy brown corn plants.  We've all seen the established trees and shrubs turning an unprecedented brown.

So this has been a week to celebrate.  I celebrate the showers that have fallen each morning, not for terribly long, but long enough, and they come day after day.  I celebrate the lush green prairies, the morning dew, the wet grass, the prism of sunlight as I stare at the fat drops clinging to the blades of grass.  I celebrate not having to water the vegetables day after day, and almost needing to actually mow the re-greening lawn.  I celebrate the spectacular and diverse cloudscapes that have filled the wide sky each day, with fluffy cumulonimbus and whispy cirrus and everything in between, catching the sun's light.  I celebrate for the dragonflies whose mosquito prey has emerged this week for the first time all summer, and for all the creatures whose thirst has been satisfied.

We call water the liquid of life... It is water that sustains earth, that makes this third planet from the sun the one -- the perfect one -- the one with the right conditions for the right things to happen for millions, billions of ears -- to allow us to be here.  Water, frozen and liquid, has shaped our land.  It fills our cells.  I quenches our parched throats and our dried-up souls.  The subject of poetry and picture.  Of course we all appreciate water and we all take water and its availability for granted.  But maybe a little less so now.

The prairies have weathered the drought better than lawns and gardens and farms.  (Duh, native plants are adapted to live here and prairie plants especially are known for their long roots and small rough leaves, all adaptations to dry hot summers...)  But they look especially lovely with the dust washed off... compass plants tower over the grasslands, their yellow crowns affirming their status as king of July.  Brown-eyed Susans, their adoring cousins, crowd beneath them.  Grasses are starting to flower, their tiny blooms not so eye-popping, but fascinating and colorful if you stop to look at them.  Blazing stars are purple exclamation points, excitement in the green and yellow.  Ironweed, indigo seed pods, milkweed seed pods, coneflowers yellow and purple... And that's just a small taste of the biodiversity that's out there.

Random note:  harvested my first tomatoes today -- twelve of them!

Well, welcome back!  I'll try not to stay gone so long again.