In our droughty year the landscape got really really brown and crisp. In our neighborhood it was fairly obvious who had the working irrigation systems and used them, and who didn’t. I was beginning to harbor deep resentment for them. Our efforts were put into conserving water and landscaping energy (mowing, weed whacking, chemicals & fertilizers, etc.), and following the restriction regulations to the letter. Our once per week watering made little impact on the crispy lawn and dropping leaves. Brown was everywhere. Nightly news reported brush fires and indeed the scars of brush fires along roads, railroad tracks, fields, etc. increased. Working close to a fire station the sirens certainly increased with the dry conditions. But even the Illegal Irrigators had trouble because there is nothing like natural rain to properly soak and stimulate growth and bloom. Green in drought is kind of like a picked scab, it’s a sore green.
In my daily drive to work and back or anywhere else I found myself averting my eyes from the roadsides and trees as if to save them from the embarassment they obviously must feel in these conditions. In drought trees drop leaves to conserve energy. Grasses brown out their tops, things die back in general. Even the cactus pucker up. I usually find some way to celebrate my surroundings, don’t get me wrong. Brown can be beautiful. Brown usually indicates a necessary stage, for seed pods, for regeneration, for many things so it’s not that I don’t appreciate the beauty that can be found. It’s just been a long, nearly exhausting time of drought. I bet you have noticed that drought has an emotional effect too?
It’s more than discouraging, it’s a soreness of spirit I think. Anyone who gardens here knows to dial back the new plantings and step up the vigilence for pests and disease since drought sets prime conditions for infection. My own poor yard suffers from neglect anyway because I don’t spend much time in it at all not just because I have a demanding job, but because the deer are not dear and continually feed and sample from the yard. So add drought to the mix and it’s rather pitiful out there. I can honestly say that we closed the blinds and kept them closed because it was too draining to look out the windows. I think we do that in protection of our spirits too. We draw ourselves closer. We shrivel up a little in protection against attack and to conserve ourselves.
The news was filled with rain up North in damaging and devestating amounts. So our prayers were filled with requests for rain for ourselves, yet requests for relief for our Northern relations. Then at last, we got some rain, and a little more, prayers were answered for even more in a steady ground soaking way. Yesterday for the first time in months and months, maybe even a whole year, driving in San Antonio was a beautiful experience. The new grass is green and soft looking making the hard crispy grass fade to the background. Trees appear washed with shiny leaves and seem to have fluffed themselves up to dance in the breeze. Sage and salvias have burst into bloom and so have crape myrtles that usually don’t have a problem blooming. They indeed have bloomed fuller and headier. The neighbor’s Brugmansia is practically trumpeting and I think I even noticed a new flush of roses. My crinums are celebrating and in bloom, and I spotted rain lilies along Bitters Road in the usual spot after a nice rain that we haven’t seen in a very long time. And, the deer are nibbling on the new grass.
What a blessing rain is, and what an emotional relief! The brightness in the new green landscape had indeed refreshed us. It really was a collective sigh when the first drops fell and seemed to keep falling. We didn’t want to have false hope after so many false starts of rain. And rumors of rain on the other side of town were depressing so we didn’t get our hopes up too high. But it did start to rain. It rained in sheets, in big drops. We had puddles! My new PastorBoss called me on the intercom to proclaim the rain…Praise the Lord!…we prayed in agreement…Praise the Lord for the blessing of rain. Praise the Lord for the rejuvenation in our spirits and in our surroundings.
…he is like the light of morning at sunrise
on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
that brings the grass from the earth.’
2 Samuel 23:4