Posted by: A Part of the Solution | July 9, 2010

Crunchy Grass

I prefer an upbeat tone when I’m writing for general consumption. I don’t find whining attractive in person or at media remove. Let’s face it, there aren’t many perfect existences floating around and most of us have some kind of a raw deal coursing through our lives at any given moment. So I try to stay cheerful and pleasant.

Lately, this has been a problem in formulating things to share on the ol’ blog. I don’t want to be reduced to a recipe repository out here. There’s more going on  than fabulous food at any given meal.

But our drought for the last two months has inevitably cast a pall over our doings. Our once verdant lawn has been reduced to something akin to the pale, stiff packing matter commonly seen at Crate & Barrel–or in eco-sensitive Easter baskets. Our neighbor’s alfalfa fields used to grow a couple inches within days of being cut for hay. Now they stand, sere and stubbly as Don Johnson in his Miami Vice days, short as they were ten days ago when Dave last mowed.

The maple trees, towering over our farmhouse, became limp leaved and dispirited. The apple trees in the yard cast about half their greenlings; the top halves of the trees are completely bare of growing apples. And in our woods, the pines are droopy limbed and the ground-cover plants (save that miracle of indestructability, poison ivy) have wilted–even in the deep shade and normally damp bottomed stream valleys.

For a long time, say six weeks, the weeds in our garden plot kept growing stoutly. Something there is that revolts at the idea of watering-in weeds deeply enough to be able to uproot them. Though that is in fact one of the tactics we used to let our precious basils and lettuces regain access to light. That was before the well started running short every day at 2pm. Eventually, the farm manager took a weed whacker to them. They’re shading out our intentional plants, and the ground had become like a baked clay tile: too hard to pull weeds from.

These last two weeks, even the weeds gave up and turned dry-plant beige with leaves curled up or under in defeat. This tactic makes their stems stiffer, and walking through the garden became a definite challenge. You know you’re having a shortage of precipitation when even the weeds can’t hack the weather.

Our proximity to the plateau shear of the Laurel Highlands guarantees us light winds and steady breezes most of every day, year round. We notice our personal dessication when we’re out working in the garden and we’re very strict about ensuring adequate hydration for people doing in the field. But with no rain for two months, those winds did nothing but strip the moisture from the plants and dry out the mulch almost as quickly as we could hand-water our crops.

I can write any of this because it rained last night. It only rained for an hour. But it might rain again tonight. We could use the rain. The grass in our yard is still pretty crunchy.

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