It makes sense that this — the first day since April, it seems, not forecast to be above 90 degrees — is the official start of summer.
The conditions haven’t merely been unseasonably warm in these parts for the past several weeks. They’ve been about what you’d expect in Death Valley in July. The temperatures have been sweltering, and rain showers have been as infrequent as Cubs victories.
There was a time when I’d be in heaven in conditions like these. I always thought I’d end up in Arizona or somewhere with a similarly warm, arid climate. I don’t mind heat, and I’m not a big fan of cold. And all rain ever used to be was something that might ruin a perfectly good day on the golf course or in the pool. I’m not a farmer; what should I care if it’s dry outside?
Well, going on two years ago, my wife and I bought our first house. That house initially was surrounded by a course, rocky and uneven yard, a problem we rectified last fall when we sprung for some landscaping. Out went the old yard and the boulders within; in came black dirt that’s actually dirt and a layer of hydroseed on top of it.
That’s when I learned a lesson about the value of rain. Hydroseed requires regular watering. I believe I was hosing the yard down twice a day at first, and then daily for a while, and progressively less and less. Those first several weeks, it was like having a second job. The one way I would get a day off, of course, was if it rained. It didn’t take me long to invent my own characteristically rhythmless version of a rain dance.
The fall came and went, and I thought my days as a dedicated grass waterer were over. With the help of some expert fertilizing from Amber’s uncle Larry as winter approached, it survived the snow and cold.
By March, it was lush and green, and it seemed totally self sufficient.
Then May came, and we hit a stretch with hardly any rain. Several days in a row passed without a shower. I was busy and didn’t pay much attention, and the next thing I knew, there were a couple of big brown and yellow patches right in my front yard.
Suddenly my career as a grass waterer resumed. I didn’t know if the two really rough patches were even salvageable at that point, but I did know they weren’t going to be green again any time soon if all I did was my ineffective rain dance. Rather intensive, daily waterings didn’t turn it around right away, but there was definite progress after a few days.
Several weeks later, I’m happy to report that I have a fully green front yard again. It’s taken consistent watering of what was the trouble area, and periodic watering of the rest, but we’ve gotten there. And while I haven’t been as liberal with the back yard or the sides of the house, a couple of dousings when it’s gotten really dry have kept those areas relatively healthy.
I’m thinking that if I add a couple of new moves to my rain dance, maybe it’ll be more effective than it’s been for the last month, and my hoses (and the neighbor’s sprinkler, when I water the backyard) can go back to collecting spider webs. If not, I’ve learned to pay attention and be proactive, and I’m trained well enough to do my second job when it’s needed.