sustainability

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IMG_8563IMG_8565 IMG_8579 IMG_8592 IMG_8594 I can’t exactly remember the last time it rained. I suppose it might have been just before I posted this update on the gardens at the beginning of July. That would have been over six weeks ago now. Since then the solar pump coming from the ponds died and died again and something in the pallet garden took full advantage of our weakened plants because it is all gone. The tomatillos, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers were completely eaten by some large and hungry pest.

The chicken field fared just a bit better. We harvested the popcorn which had taken a beating but still gave a bit. The yellow summer squash is singing its final farewell. And the okra, well, if we can keep the ants away they seem completely unfazed. I must remember to plant okra in June, if nothing else.

But what I really meant to tell you about today was rain. It is hard to put into words what water is to a homestead in a dry land. You can go weeks and months without it before hearing the sweet sound of raindrops on a tin roof. And when it comes, it is a celebration of gratitude.

The skies here are so intense, much like the extremes in climate we feel through every season. With dark clouds on the horizon we all ran out to the clothesline to bring in baskets and baskets of clean laundry. And when that was said and done and the first drops pinged off the roof, the children gathered around windows to watch the rain.

Stewart and I just sat and soaked in the break in the heat, the silence coming from the children, and the first rain we’ve seen in I don’t know how many weeks.

IMG_8384 IMG_8390 IMG_8396 IMG_8412IMG_8415The days were warm, the nights cooler, the sun visibly moving from summer to fall. The season of abundance was upon us and the dehydrator ran consistently with trays of peppers, herbs, zucchini, and various fruits and berries. The freezer was stuffed daily with freshly picked blueberries and bunches of cilantro and parsley. Tomatoes were jarred and put away, peaches cooked all day into smooth butter. Soon I would bring home boxes and boxes of winter squash and potatoes.

Summer was nearing its end and an urgency pushed us on. They were some of the best days of the year, those weeks of August on our northern suburban homestead.

I often think of July and August as our off months here in Texas – the gardens looking not unlike those succumbing to frost. We lay low for a good part of the afternoon taking in books and school or just shade and water. Even the children – the most resilient among us – often struggle with the mental and physical aspects of getting through and it all reminds me a bit of the toll the months of January and February often take on those of us in the north.

In a few weeks we may start up some more seeds for the fall garden. September may come and bring with it just a little bit of a shift. Maybe the tomatoes and peppers will rebound in the fall as they so often have when rain and double digits return. But for now, we wade through the deep, hot, slow days of August.