I’ve shied away from the mention of heat waves and drought here in this space. I suspected that, given the slightest opportunity, the whining and self pity and utter sluggishness resulting from this drought would take over the podium, that even the mere mention of it here would feed the monster and make it multiply, like the yeasty proliferation of bread dough, or gremlins fed after midnight. Not having much else to say, then, I resolved to sit on my hands and shut up.
But hot damn. It was hot. And worse, it was dry. There was not a drop of measurable rain for over 6 weeks. The grass of the pasture dwindled down to nothing, having been mowed down by both sheep and chickens passing through but unable to regenerate for Round 2. Chickens were butchered, so the stress of feeding them vaporized, but fourteen wooly ungulate mouths still required grass, and lots of it. Out of necessity, they got acquainted with the wilder pockets of the acres, testing the agility of the portable electric fence as they were pastured on the hillside, all brambly and overgrown. They swiftly stripped down the grapevines and bared the vigorous buckthorn down to spindly annoyances. I pushed the boundaries of ‘pasture’ until nothing else green remained. The rain remained stubbornly elusive and we felt no choice but to take it all personally. I added to the list of grievances caused by the rain’s absence when we filled up our trailer and truck with hay and were forced to begin feeding it at the beginning of July, four months ahead of the normal schedule. All the while I knew full well that our dependence on the rain was minimal, compared to real farmers who depend upon the bounty of the rain to feed their crops or their livestock, that we didn’t stand to lose much by comparison, but I felt it my duty to take that personally as well, to be outraged at the (lack of) weather for those farmers too. It was a big grudge to carry, and a long time to shoulder it, but the sourness of it all proliferated with no effort whatsoever, like negativity is prone to do.
The stress of it all was palpable, like a crackle of electric tension in the air. I had come to depend on the rain, I realized, as a release of tension. The sun says Go! Do! Keep going! Full speed! Time’s a wasting! But the rain, when it it here, signals a change of pace, a clearing off of the overfull plate. It says Whoa, now. Take a deep breath. Turn inward. Recharge. Be clean, start fresh. Have a drink, close your eyes. Slow. Rest.
There was none of that, then. The sun pounded us with unrelenting triple digit heat with an endurance that would be impressive if it weren’t so oppressive. Frazzled and twitchy and despondent, I hollered at the kids too much and stomped around the house. I cursed the sky like a filthy sailor when I slipped on the crispy lawn and fell on my ass. I was mad.
So I raised an obscene finger to the sky and schlepped a wimpy window air conditioner into my studio and cranked it on with a scowl on my face. And in a grand ‘F-You’ to the weather, I cranked out 5 skirts and a dress in 2 days of sewing.
It’s not a very graceful show of creative accomplishment. Now that we’ve gotten some rain and the grass has resumed its greening, I can see very plainly how I’ve been acting like a sulky child. But I do have an abundance of skirts to choose from, so let’s just focus on the positive.