Thursday, June 21, 2012

water - the stuff of life

In this modern society of ours we often find ourselves disconnected from our food, the earth, weather, etc.  I'm not the first person to say it nor do I think I'll be the last - we're sorely out of touch with the stuff of life!  One of the things I deeply appreciate about receiving a CSA from our farmer every week (in addition to the delicious produce!) is the opportunity to be more connected to the land.  This experience coupled with our ventures into community gardening has given me a new perspective on this world and a deeper sense of awe at how beautiful, fragile and yet resilient life is.

Until a few days ago, the only source of water for this little community garden was rain.  We set up a series of rain barrels at the bottom of rain spouts to collect water and we simply hoped it would rain enough to last us most of the summer, except maybe August when we would need some supplementary water source.

I don't know what the weather has been like where you are, but here in the Chicago area, our weather report has look like this for the last 4 weeks, at least:

That thundercloud may look promising, but it represents a 30% chance of rain.  Also, thunderstorms aren't quite the kind of rain we need.  They pour and then move on - no gentle, full-day soaking of the ground.  It's only June and we're already in drought.  I can't help but think, if we lived just 100 years ago, this would be a serious crisis.  This season's weather is already causing crisis for many farmers - that summer in early spring followed by deep cold?  One farmer told me he lost his entire cherry crop.  No long freeze over the winter affects the lakes in our region, it also means more bugs may have survived to haunt us this summer.  And now the rain.  We got very little early spring rain and now even less.  If it were not for modern water systems, we would likely be looking at regional famine.  Maybe that's a bit extreme since I don't know all the ways they got water to crops before plumbing but I do know that, had we not bought a hose for our garden, all of our plants would have died by now.

There was a time when food didn't just show up at the store.  The weather in California would have been largely inconsequential to us.  What would matter most, for most of the year, would be what the sky above us looks like today.  Today my sky is actually overcast and looks like rain but still none has fallen - hopefully it will though!  Whether it does or not, I will continue to be thankful for the technology that allows me to eat today and tomorrow and the days after that in spite of the sky.  Don't get me wrong - water is a precious resource, weather pattern shifts are a concern and it's quite possibly some of our modernizations that have caused the current problems we face, but as we work towards a more sustainable future, I'm thankful that we have the means to live to see it.

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