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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Drought

What is growing in this drought? What life is stirring in the forest when the temperature is in the triple digits? I am sad to say, not a lot. This summer I am finding it hard to write about the Ozarks because the natural world is struggling. Silver maples all over the towns and villages are dead, eaten away by beetles and then taxed by the drought. All along the rolling hills oak trees have turned brown and will die this year. Some trees have dropped their leaves and gone dormant, I suspect these trees will come back to life briefly in fall and survive the year. Sycamore trees have found a way to drop 80% of their leaves. By holding on to very few leaves they are conserving moisture and might make it through the summer.
It is hard to find many animals other than grasshoppers, cicadas, cardinals and crows. Everything else seems to be hiding. Even at dawn, before the day is unbearable, the forest is quite. Very few birds are rejoicing in the rising of the sweltering sun.
I have tried to focus on my garden. It is the only sense of environmental control I have. Yet I can not seem to water it enough. And the squash bugs ate half my plants. And something stole every last peach! I worked hard to care for my peach trees this year. Then something came in the night and took every one, pits and all. What could it have been? All I can think, is that the desperate soul who stole them, needed them more than I. Even in the garden, I have no control. Nature is huge. The earth will do as she pleases.
It has been a depressing summer for environmentalist and naturalist. We can't help but think this is the beginning of the end. Climate change is taking its toll. How will we all survive? Will we all survive?

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