For the love of water in the midst of a drought

It's been a long drought. The summer wind that.


It’s been a long drought.

The summer wind that blew the peaches’ cheeks pink has hardened to a dragon’s breath. The hot breeze smells of hay – an old sweet scent, to be sure, but there’s no cattle feed underfoot, only curled brown grass crackling beneath my step.

Clouds passing overhead and reflected in the glass of the GTA and asphalt underfoot dissipate in the heat. The sky is a blue burn.

Deep in the woods there’s still what the kids refer to as “natural air conditioning.” I’m grateful when they drag me in there and sit me on a dead log. We’ve turned most of the forest that all Ontario used to be into asphalt or some kind of artificial grassland. From corn to wheat to lawns, it cries for water. 

Native plants do much better. Wild strawberries are still green beneath the trees. Wildflowers and weeds make little patches of blooms in the tawny waste of lawns.

With hoses, we gardeners do our triage on beloved tomatoes, some flowers we feel we can’t lose: a beloved rose, an echinacea or monarda patch we’ve nurtured for years. 

But they are lonely in this drought, in which only a tough or pampered few can thrive.

Finally, as even the leaves on native dogwoods begin to droop, comes the miracle. An overnight shower licks the ground. In the morning it builds up to a patter, then a good, soaking downpour as the baked earth softens to receive it.

As the sky clears, I walk along the forest’s edge. It has exploded with scent, floral and green, laced with a surprise of cinnamon. Then, as I come in view of the grassy hill, another miracle: the once-dead land already blushing green.

One little rain, falling equally on all, gave birth to all this life, all this precious life, just waiting for its chance.    

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