Six months ago, I wrote this short blog post about enduring winter in the Northeast. On January 31st of this year, my corner of the state experienced a 17°F day that also provided a scant 9 hours and 54 minutes of daylight. (Daylight. Not sunshine, not night, just “daylight”.) This was an improvement over the day a week before that had 16 minutes LESS daylight and a temperature of -8°F. By the end of January, 29.8 inches of snow had fallen and 30 days were counted below 32°F. Those days were dark, frozen and buried in snow. There are, however, two sides to every coin. After a historically wet spring, we are now in the throes of a historically hot, dry summer. Hello, Drought.
My grass is dead. While cicada wing symphonies fill the air of my neighborhood, I have not heard a lawnmower in almost 5 weeks. Some of our neighbors ran a sprinkler on their front lawns in the early part of the month, but even that has waned when it became obvious that the neighborhood norm would soon be a parched landscape. Not that I did not personally enjoy strolling, fully clothed, straight through the neighbors’ sprinklers during our dog-walks, but I just cannot bring myself to water our lawn. It is the same sinking feeling I get when I rinse out yogurt cups for recycling; I think to myself, What a waste of so much clean water.
According to water.org, 884 MILLION people worldwide lack clean water. One in eight people have access to 8 gallons or less water per day. The average American taking a 5 minute shower uses an equivalent amount, and pays 5 to 10 times LESS for that water. Knowing this, I cannot bring myself to set up a sprinkler in my small, semi-urban front yard. If I were to water it, the prescribed “one inch” calculates out to 373 gallons of water. So someone living in a Third World slum gets 8 gallons a day total, for cooking, cleaning, bathing and drinking, and I am going to use 47 TIMES that amount just to make my lawn look pretty? Not to mention my 10 minute shower, rinsing out containers for recycling, and the water I pour down the drain from the dog’s and cat’s bowls because I want them to have *fresh* water throughout the day. Not watering my lawn is the least I can do.
As of today, the National Weather Service reports that during July my area received only 1.7 inches of rain, all but a half inch on this past Friday morning when I fought the urge to skip outside singing “tra-la-la-Thank-God-It’s-Raining!” July 2010 enjoyed 5.7 inches of rain, well above the normal of about 3 inches. It’s either feast or famine, and we are ever fickle. As tropical storm Don bore down on the gulf coast of Texas a few days ago, the residents looked forward to it, for the rain. A tropical storm, welcomed in the Gulf, with open arms. That’s where we are with this drought.
The grass is always greener on the other side
Our early spring Caribbean cruise has forever given a name to humid, bright 100°F days: “Tortola,” my memory has whispered to me all this month. I smile and recall the beach and the relaxation, even when I am stuck in traffic on a searing afternoon. And in six months, when the day is dark at 4:00pm and my mind resides underneath a 3 foot snow bank, I will have this memory-oasis of a tank top and shorts feeling like too much clothing.
Weather affects us. It is the reason that any news broadcast leads with the local forecast. Whether it is the isolation of a northeastern winter or the summer that scorches everything in its path, all of us must endure. For simple fun and relief, some of us can fill a swimming pool with about 13,500 gallons of water. Five years’ worth of daily fresh water for a global neighbor. It just depends on your side of the coin.