Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Signs and Omens

Wild ageratum is blooming right now, an impossible color to photograph..."granny blue"
I think grannies wore that color so much just because it was unusual in nature and hard to reproduce and so somehow powerful. Gandma Lillian called it "fairwell to summer". The grannies used an entirely different nomenclature. I was fascinated by the common names in use by the grannies in Michigan vs. the grannies in Tennessee, so much so that I would take my notebook and specimens and interview them and wrote it all down, lost now I suppose...but the granny memories are some of my best.

My ex used to get on my case about my affection for omens. I like observing and interpreting omens, I see them as nothing more than a form of poetry, a way to express some deeper meaning in words and images. I don't relegate them to the corner with superstition and anti-intellectual behavior, but then, it could be because he was very white, and my ancestry is slightly brown and I think our ancestry sets the beat for the music of our enterainment, the background music of our relationship with the world.
So there was this rain, 3 inches in some areas...around 1 inch here in the holler. That was a week or so ago. Everyone whoo-haaed and the powers that be decided all was well and the media moved on. This amount does not begin to make up a yard deep deficit. The creeks are all still dry, the water restrictions still in place and we are still flushing and showering with a bucket and hauling water for the animals...and I plumb gave up on a fall garden.
Yesterday I walked down to the what was left of the watering hole in the now dried up creek below the culvert.
I knew what I would find, but, hey, just checking, leaving room for a miracle.... It is right ugly, no matter how you look at it. Lots of thirsty critter tracks and mud licking going on. The rest of the creek is long dried up, a coating of white mineral and sage colored dried algae.
I hear a lot of talk on the news using phrases like "risk management energy strategies consulting."
I can't seem to take a walk without ticking off species destruction, tallying rising biodiversity risk factors, noticing microclimate destruction/evolution on a meteoric scale, right here, right now, right in front of my eyes and all I am doing is looking for signs of normalcy.
I thought that things had a chance of recovery after the "big freeze," but the double whammy of this cursed and unending drought is different than the hardships that the grannies experienced. They could count on the seasons, another one would roll around and it would "fix right" the freak happening. I am off kilter and feel discordant without the metronome of the season. I carry a weight in my chest that even a cold beer at the end of hard days work won't ease. I am sick of the drought and sick of the mourning and sick of the body count. I am so heartsick, that it is even difficult to put in a hard days work, as in, what's the frigging point?
So I sit down at the edge of the former water hole, and watch a single tiny forlorne bluet butterfly hover listlessly...there is not even enough moisture to satisfy a little bluet, and hey, where are his buddies, anyway? Bluets are normally cheerful gangs over the nutrient rich mud, so "where is everybody?" A cry I have uttered on every walk in the woods for months now......and thats when I start the heartsick crying, again, and I am sick of that, too. I have always been described as a "tough ol' sister" and I figured I always got that toughness from the woods, guess that was true, as it is gone now, too...my toughness lost the battle when the woods lost the battle.
I start back along the dusty and dried up pasture mule-path and through teary eyes spy, right in the middle of a particularly dusty spot ...an amazing thing! A one of a kind, not seen anywhere in this portion of Tennessee in this screwed up season of a screwed up year, a single, beautiful, perfect acorn!
I took it as a sign.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

first water lily bloom

Blossom, smile some sunshine (rainclouds) down my way
Lately, Ive been lonesome
Blossom, its been much too long a day
Seems my dreams have frozen (dried up)
Melt my cares away -James Taylor

So, another great thing about the new little pond (besides being a lifesaver for me and the critters) is that it is something like a garden to look at, growing and changing every day. It distracts me from looking at the depressing remnants of the real garden, which has long since given up the cause. Its a brown and shriveled ghost garden, except for the few tomatoes and kale that I have been hand watering with collected bath water (we do have our priorities, I just try not to think about bacteria and all)
In the spring, after the "big tragic late freeze" Lowes had lots of damaged plants on sale, very cheap. (At the time, in the face of the tragedy, I had to scold myself for being gleeful over the sale, but hey, I just couldn't help it!) This water lily was one of them, marked down to 50 cents (otherwise, water lilies are way out of my price range) I got three, of unknown colors, and this one has bloomed ! It took it all summer to recover and grow, I was kinda hoping that the native one would bloom first (that sort of sums me up in a nutshell) but this fancy one bloomed first.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Round here, when the record breaking heat broke, people's broken spirits lifted just a little. There where a few days of overcast sky's and cool nights following that slight mist of little or no accumulation of rain drops. So pretty quick folks came to their senses and realized that the weather reports where only a string of broken promises as the earth continues to dessicate around middle Tennessee. It is funny, though, how delusional you become, when a prediction of 20 percent chance of scattered showers translates in your brain as a hopeful promise of relief. But after weeks and weeks, hope begins to fade and tempers tighten again. They have begun shipping in round bales of hay from Oklahoma. A 20.00 round bale will now cost you 100, if you can get to it in time, the ads always read, first come first serve. I have notoriously been a day late and a dollar short. So far, I haven't scored hay.
Yesterday was the first day the mules sucked the water trough dry before the end of the day, guess they are not getting any moisture from the pasture plants, which pretty much look so as shriveled as if frost has already arrived. Pumping water into the trough from my little pond is still sort of a trick, I have to run back and forth, making sure there are no leaks and the mules haven't reached down and tossed the hose out with their teeth while I was down checking on the pump end.
It is disheartening to drive anywhere, because then you get a really good look at the brown pastures and dying trees, but we have been driving, anyway, any evening we can, down to the river to toss the inflatable kayaks in and bob around in a watery distraction "like a game of chess when the house is a mess" Although most of the creeks have dried up most of the way to the river, the river itself is blessedly cool and clear. Just keep your eyes off of the rock bluffs, where even the normally dry tolerant cedars are turning brown.

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