24 July 2012

In the grips of the Drought of 2012

Truly we are dry here in the middle of America. In the middle of Missouri.

The continuous string of 90+ and 100+ degree days seems to impact everything as it should. Any running I would be doing these days is on hold. With no conditioned air at home it is hard to sleep, so I sweat and toss and turn and eventually give up and get up and write. I wake up each of these summer mornings experiencing a new level of dehydration. It may be appropriate to say me and the world around me are... dessicated. It doesn't feel safe to run not because of the heat alone but because I get so dried out in the night. Maybe I ought to set up a humidifier to go with the fan. Regardless, I am on hiatus from running and think it is the wise way to be.

The heat will kill you.
Of course I still commute everywhere on my circa 1996 Schwinn Searcher. Today I rode from work to the hardware store at 5:15pm. The hardware store is near our mall zone out where there are no trees. After 15 minutes on my bike I felt like the world might melt and take me along with it. The hardware store had my replacement smoke alarm. The grocery store had the soymilk and bananas and cottage cheese. The super-chill of the grocery felt amazing. My fellow shoppers seemed stunned. Or maybe they are zombies from the heat. Regardless it felt great to be in the nice chilled supermarket for awhile. An acquaintance whom I regularly tease was collecting his cart as I was leaving. He said he pitied me trying to stuff my purchases into my bike bag and because I had to ride a bike in this weather. I told him I pitied him having to be all cooped up in a car. We laughed. We sweated. We talked some more and said see you later.

When I got home I spread more soaker hose out on my perennials. This is a new and difficult phase for me. My 'work' for the last decade at our home in Columbia has involved removing turf grass and installing native plants and regionally appropriate perennials. The Post-Peace Corps Era has seen the emergence of more perennial edibles in our home landscape. None of these plantings require water after one year. That's my standard. My mantra even possibly.

Beauty berry in wetter times.
This year is different. The lilacs and hydrangeas are stressed and more brown than green. Without water the beautyberry will disappear soon into a heap of shriveled plant matter. This season I have come to see the value behind my landscape investment. And I am watering. I have deployed soaker hoses. Timers may enter the equation soon.

All of this gives me some consternation since I try to live the most low-impact life possible. I bike. I recycle everything. I compost. I keep friends for a long time. 'Three pees and a poop' guides our household attitude towards flushing. Using water to keep plants alive that don't feed us seems wasteful. Then I see the dragonflies and cardinals and spiders. And I don't mind the work to keep it all alive. It isn't about me. That was the most valuable lesson I learned in Zambia and it remains relevant today.
Please God make it rain on us.

The drought will end. The rain will come again to water the Earth.

In the meantime I'll keep watering as needed and duck into a nice big air-conditioned building as the opportunities allow.

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