Wednesday, August 10, 2016

In a Dry and Thirsty Land

This summer we have been enjoying day after day of beautiful, hot, sunny weather. The downside of this is that we are experiencing drought that is devastating crops and drying up wells. Citizens are being asked to conserve water, and just this week, the city reduced the hours at the splash pads. Driving around the countryside you will see dead lawns, stunted corn fields and dusty cars. There are total fire bans all over the region. We need rain and lots of it. It is no surprise that water is one of the main topics of conversation around town. We so often take for granted that living near lake Ontario we have an abundance of fresh water, and this season's drought has made us appreciate every drop so much more.

The other day we went to check on our community garden plot. While we have enjoyed all the veggies our garden has produced so far, we are a little disappointed that what we were hoping would be a bumper crop of tomatoes is succumbing to dry rot. We were able to get a good pick of beans and cherry tomatoes though. Then we were delighted and surprised when the skies opened up above us and we had a beautiful soak of rain over the garden. There were blue skies around us and it literally only rained in the couple of blocks surrounding the gardens. I enjoyed getting soaked in the refreshing rain too. We were so grateful.

Pouring rain on the garden with blue skies all around

We were also grateful to discover a swimming hole at a nearby conservation area. We had driven past the sign countless times but had never stopped. Not only are there great hiking trails with numerous geocaches, but the conservation area also boasts a quarry. The quarry is tested weekly for water quality. It was a refreshing way to cool off and we enjoyed watching the turtles have a swim too.

The Quarry: their own little oasis
Driving home we were all very thirsty, so we stopped to refill our water bottles at a spring by the highway. Although signs warn that the water is not for human consumption, many locals go there to collect jugs of the ever-flowing, cold, clear water from the artesian well. It may not be the legendary fountain of youth, but I do believe it might just be a spring of kindness and happiness. Any time we have stopped there, if there happens to be another person there we are met with good humour that's like a conspiratorial wink. Everyone insists that the other can go first, it is always a great day, and there is invariably a one-liner ("I put an extra quarter in the meter for you").  It might just be the happiest place on earth, or in the county at least. For all the advances in technology, social media and communications, people in a community coming together over a well to meet the most basic of human needs is still a strong source of connection and joy. It is timeless and universal.

Hopefully the rains come soon. In the meantime, my thoughts are with those who are suffering the effects of drought on their farms and businesses. Well, that's my two cents worth. How about you? How are you staying cool? Are you making changes to conserve more water? Or are you in a region dealing with flooding? A penny for your thoughts?