Friday, July 27, 2012

After the Rain

Apparently 75% of the continental US is officially in a drought.  This is particularly sad for the Heartland where I live.  I've never seen the mid summer lawns and corn fields anything but shimmering brilliant green, and right now, they are course, brown, and thirsty.  The ramifications of this dry and dusty summer will be felt for years to come in the form of food shortages and high prices. 

The beautiful garden I inherited in my new home is suffering terribly, but what can I do? What I can't do is set a sprinkler on the lawn.  Well, it's not that I can't, it's that I won't.  You see, I'm Australian, and as such, am only too familiar with drought.  My homeland has recently emerged from one of the worst droughts in history and the disciplines of water conservation are still forefront in my mind.

Water is something that far too many people take for granted. Fresh water is a precious commodity and the effects of long term drought are only really understood if you've seen or lived it. I remember taking showers while standing in a huge bucket to catch the water. We'd set a timer for 5 minutes and try to finish before it went off, and then empty the bucket onto the garden. We'd do laundry once a week and only flush the loo if it yellow!! 

Most homes in the southern part of Australia are engineered with rainwater tanks and gray water catchment, which maneuvers the water from kitchen's, laundry's, and bathrooms out onto the garden.  For so long, sprinlkers were illegal under water restriction law, as was washing a car. And guess what?  Everyone is Australia was OK.  People eventually re-calibrated their perspective on gardens and water usage and effective water conversation became an embedded part of the Australian way of life. Even now, after the drought, most people still remain excessively conscious of water conservation.

Now for Australia, that's saying something.  Learning to shed the habits and preferences of a very English way of life has been difficult for us, especially in times of drought.  Learning to live more within the harmony of the unique Australian environment as the indigenous Australians have done for centuries before us, is something that is now widely embraced, and beautiful to behold.

These lessons can be well headed by other countries now facing the prospects of crushing long term drought and fresh water shortages.  Not the least, the USA.  I see too many people around me taking fresh water for granted.  The waste is so sad, especially when I see sprinklers so carelessly set, they are flooding water onto the roads and sidewalks, and down the drains.  I sometimes want to scream at people..."look at what you've got, stop wasting it or it won't last forever!!".

So, this week has seen a huge line of storm cells make their way east across the US, culminating is some frightening storms and tornadoes in parts of the East where they just don't experience that kind of thing.  Here in the mid-west, we are very used to super-cell storms and tornadoes, they're a part of our everyday lives, and we're generally well prepared!  But for the east, it's something very frightening.

The rain from this recent storm, albeit brief, was a very welcome relief.  I woke yesterday morning to a garden that was literally singing and twinkling in gratitude. Of course, I rushed out with my camera and the result is another bookmark to add to my collection.

This one was done in flat watercolor and Twinkling H2O's, in honor of the shimmering drops of joy that were resting all over the flowers. The rain has gone now, and the heat and dry has returned.  But still, I urge everyone to think twice about how you use water, and where possible, save!

Thanks for checking in. xx