Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 10-24-11
An optimist once coined the phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” A partying positive thinker added their spin by saying, “When life gives you lemons, break out the tequila and the salt!” Either way, looking for the good in a tough situation does seem to make it more bearable. When you live long enough, you finally realize that even the most difficult times do eventually end. But right now, it’s hard to believe that this apocalyptic Texas drought will ever end.
I remember another seemingly endless dry spell. It was accompanied by a skin crawling proliferation of grasshoppers. The vegetation that hadn’t already withered in the scalding sun was devoured by hundreds of ravenous insects. Finally after months of scorching temperatures and cloudless skies, the drought broke in late October. Even though fall had officially begun weeks earlier, the afternoon temperatures still soared into the upper 80s and low 90s.
When the rain began falling, the heat eased, and the whole earth heaved a sigh of relief. I was excited about planting my bag of bluebonnet seeds that I’d harvested a few summers earlier. It was too late to grow any hay, but at least some of the creeks and ponds would have water for the wildlife and farm animals.
On the third day of rain, my two older children started getting antsy. I was teaching home-schooling back then, and my youngest one had gone into town for Mother’s Day Out. When the school work was finished, my oldest daughter, Lucia asked if they might go out and stomp in the mud. She was about eight at the time. Her 5-year-old little brother was her loyal sidekick. He would have certainly jumped off a cliff if she’d have asked him. He stood behind her sucking his thumb and shaking his head in agreement.
Thinking that every country kid ought to experience some reckless abandon every once in a while, I agreed. They put on their rubber boots and went out to splash in the large solitary mud puddle in our driveway. I watched them for a while and then dove into the domestic chores that always awaited after my teaching duties ended. When I looked back out the kitchen window a few minutes later, they were both lying on their backs flapping their arms and legs making mud “angels.” The puddle’s borders had been enlarged considerably. I wish now I’d taken a picture, but I will always have a mental image of those two kids cavorting in the mud like two wild little piglets. Lucia told me later that they’d taken off their boots and filled them with the slimy goo and stuck their feet back into them just to feel how squishy it felt.
When they came to the back door, I held out my arm stiffly and said, “Whoa! Stop right there!” Dark brown mud streamed from their hair, covered their faces and oozed onto the porch in a steady stream. Only their eyes and teeth were visible as they smiled at me through the screen door. I made them hose each other down with their clothes on and then strip down to their underwear. I brought them some towels and escorted them to the tub. We used lots of soap and hot water to get all the mud and grit out of their ears and hair. When their little sister got home, they told her about their escapades in great detail. It was hard to prevent them from repeating the scenario with her right then. They made it sound so fun, I almost wish that I’d have joined them.
As our current drought drags on into the fall, I’ve made some rash statements about what I’ll do when and if it ever rains. I may have to add making “mud angels” to my list. If that would hasten the rain clouds, I’d sign up for that and even more drastic measures. I bet a lot of other people around here would, too.
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This the first in a six-part series of articles covering basic water law in the United States, predominately in the western part of the country, and how it affects this finite resource.