They say it’s the worst drought around here since the 40s. Our county never was big for rain. We get the second lowest in Ontario which makes us great for vacation land but tough for farmers. This year we’ve had six months with about an inch of rain. Wells are running dry and the water delivery trucks are pounding the pavement day and night. My lawn mower hasn’t been out since May and the pasture has finally dried up to the point where the cattle have nothing to eat and have to be given hay. They spend more and more time trying to forage around the shrinking beaver pond. When I go back, I see they have even chewed on the swale grass, a sharp, hard, mouth cutting grass that is truly a last resort.
The water around the beaver pond has been evaporating, turning from a wetland that attracts birders to a black expanse of arid bottom. Now flocking geese stand around looking bewildered on great swathes of cracked mud where they used to swim. The cattle are so hot they have taken to lying down in the mud that remains damp to keep cool. Many roadside trees, lacking deep enough roots, have turned brown and are dropping dead leaves. Grass everywhere has long ago turned sere and crispy, going dormant to survive. Of course the entire county is under a strict fire ban and we all live in fear of that careless cigarette butt tossed from some car window. Should anyone trying to barbeque inadvertantly start a grass fire, they will get a stiff bill from the fire department after the blaze is put out.
We are used to drought periods but not like this. Farmers are suffering the most, with crops drying up in the fields like the shrunken cornstalks, visible along any road, which have given up the struggle some time ago. All the wild raspberries I meant to pick shriveled into stony little knobs before even ripening. The drought rating in the area is now notched up to severe and folks are asked to cut water use by 50%. Those trying to nurse along failing wells have cut back to dribbles weeks ago. Make a little tea, wash a few dishes, take a one minute shower, flush the toilet only when desperately necessary. Yeah, we know all about water conservation.
Day after day, in blistering heat, we wait and check the weather forecast. Sun, sun and more sun. The camping trailers and motor homes zoom past, joyfully pursuing a happy holiday of endless sunshine and butt roasting heat. For us, we see our veggie gardens collapse and survivors in the unwatered flower beds too weak to produce a bloom.
But hey, we had some showers this week. Enough so that grass is actually damp. And the flooding storms of the US are rumoured to be tracking north. We hope against hope that the rain clouds don’t part, as they so often do, and perversely drop their water to the north and south instead. Meantime, we wave at the holidayers and think of the pleasant streams of cash that are our consolation prize.
Oh, and one more big benefit: the mosquitoes can’t find anywhere to breed.