Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Weathering the Weather



A persistent pattern in the Pacific ocean has kept Texas hot and dry this summer. A dearth of rain and a record-breaking string of days with temperatures over 100 degrees has been extreme even for a climate that is well-known for its extremes.

Lake Travis where I live is over 40 feet below normal levels exposing a bed of cracked earth. The vendor tables at weekend farmer's markets offer slim pickings. Groves of trees on dry hills are flecked with the sienna of dead and dying vegetation. Last weekend, I saw a sunflower in bloom where it volunteered on the verge of a lawn that is irrigated. One sunflower on dry hills where they usually bloom profusely.

It's been hard on flora and fauna, on farmer's and ranchers, on everyone. And it's on everyone's mind whether we speak of it or otherwise.

How do we weather this weather?

Carol Ann Sayle of Boggy Creek Farm plants blue blooms and orders seeds for fall planting.
The oak tree mediates the heat around the little blue flowers, the tree that I "examine" every single day, and ask, "Are you reaching for the aquifer water and are you finding it?" For how in the world can I water its roots? I worry about a tree that saw the birth of this farm in 1839. It survived the tornado of 2001, although the ends of its branches twisted off, and a major branch came to touch upon, delicately, almost reverently, the farm house roof. It survived. We could stand to lose every 80-year old giant pecan tree on this farm, but not the old oak. If it died, would this farm also die, of heartbreak?

Addie Broyles of Relish Austin looks to her backyard chickens for pluck.
Not having to buy eggs is nice, but at this point, smack dab in the middle of August, with perhaps a month of insufferable heat left, what I appreciate even more is their tenacity. If they can not just survive this summer but lay almost an egg a day while they are at it, maybe I can make it through, too.

I worry about the long-range effect on our oak trees. I water birds, squirrels and deer who frequent my patio oasis. I take heart in every cloud that develops in the sky. It has been spotty, but some rain has fallen around the area in the last week. It's moving in the right direction. It's not making a dent in the deficit we're suffering, but it's something.

We may not know how. We may not know when. We may not know at what cost. We know that this too shall pass.
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