Sunday, June 26, 2016

Tending to the Near-Constant Thirst for Life

The automated call from the water company wanted to alert me that in preparing our upcoming bill they had observed that our water usage for the ending period was significantly higher than in previous months.  The message went on to encourage us to check for leaks or broken pipes.

The culprit, of course, is not faulty equipment but the beginnings of a summer unusually hot and dry.  With temperatures these past few weeks in the upper 90's, uninterrupted by rain, we have indeed been supplementing the garden.  Drip irrigation tapes along each row slake the thirst of the vegetables. Emitter lines tend the fruit trees in the orchard, and the rapidly emptying rain barrels sustain the herbs and flowers nearer by.  Remembering that first summer garden presided over with a garden hose in my hand I'm grateful for the simplified augmentations.  It took weeks to flatten my hand out of the spray-nozzle shape to which it had conformed.  These days I simply lift the hydrant handle and leave it for the requisite hours...

...and pay the bill.

The bright side of this climatic inhospitality is that the grass needs less frequent attentions, and the garden weeds’ reduced vigor has allowed us to finally catch up to them.  For the moment.  Because all of this will change.

Or not.

Because this is, after all, nature not software.  It twists and turns and unfolds and kinks in concert with forces outside my control and far above my understanding.  Meteorologists speak of “Gulf Streams” and “El Nino” while scientists track climate change and environmental degradation.  While I am intrigued by their lectures and conversations, all I really understand is that it's hot and dry and I had better pay careful attention to the leaves and the stems and the soil.  There is life out there, for which I have accepted some responsibility.  Gardeners can no more plant the seed and walk away than parents can deliver a child and expect it to inexorably mature.

As with most things we value -- a business enterprise, an avocational endeavor, a relationship, parenting, peace -- if we want it to thrive, indeed prosper, we can never stop paying attention; pitching, to be sure, but as often as not doing our best to get a glove around whatever gets thrown at us.

Filling in the gaps.

And watering when it's dry.

It did rain a bit overnight -- enough to replenish the rain barrels but too little to much relieve the water bill.  I'm grateful, nonetheless, for the gift of it -- and the respite.

Every little bit, after all  -- in life and in cultivation -- helps.