Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Drought

Mother looked out over the pond at the ridges of green, reedy grasses and snowy tufts of Queen Anne's Lace. So lush within a stone's throw, though the grass outside the door pricked her feet like hay stubble and was just as yellow-brown.

She was thankful again for the tiny pond and all the life it supported. The corn in the neighboring fields was lost, but the weeping willows and evergreens at the edge of Pigeon's pond showed no fear the festering drought. Pigeon's first summer had been almost as dry and dusty as the the desert Mother and Father had left behind the year before. But their little pond held on, growing thick, tall grasses where its borders had shrunk back from the heat. There were two muskrats now, busy building and rebuilding their den; the herons still wobbled and waded through the water's edge; the ducklings, now grown, squabbled over territory; and something gigantic and striped glided, silent, up and over and under the surface, newly visible in the receding shallows.

It did not rain.

Pigeon's family carried on, escaping to the seashore, visiting family, and meeting more of their neighbors. Mother tried not to think of the ugly autumn the drought had in store for them.


Last week Mother frowned when she stepped outdoors and noticed for the first time that a sandy edge had appeared around the rim of the pond. The water had dropped 3 inches overnight.

This is bad, she whispered to Pigeon. She was glad he couldn't understand. The fish will die. The pond will dry up. When she kissed his head, it felt like a prayer. 

The next day clouds came through as they had for months, thick, black, promising--and empty. A cloud broke and spit down a few fat drops which the air sucked up before the grass could taste them. But later when Father was home enough rain fell to stick to the patio in puddles. It kept falling and puddling. It dripped from the trees. They went to bed happy and hopeful. The rain on the walls of the house woke Father. The thunder woke Pigeon. Pigeon woke Mother. No one got any sleep. In the morning the rain was still falling gently. The clouds remained to protect their gift from the greedy sun. 

Mother smiled when she saw the pond; the sandy ring around the rim had disappeared--for the time being. 

She thought that words could be like rain, coming down in sheets one season and refusing to appear the next. They could pass overhead without falling to soil for months, even when most needed and expected. They could splatter down, violent and sparse, on half-formed thoughts in the field of her mind, and come to nothing. And they could suddenly run again, effortless, to fill in the dry edges and revive the inspiration that was always there, waiting. The real rains would return, she believed, in time.


  1. Missed your stories. Praying for rain.

    1. Thanks--we got more last night and more forecast for today! It's amazing how much greener things are already looking around here...:)

  2. I can't imagine waiting and hoping for rain. ;-)
    On the radio I heard a dj say: "we had a bit of rain and we called it July." He was so right. August has some sunny days, luckily.
    I love the last part. I'm experiencing a major writer's block myself. I'm having a word-drought since over three months now and deadlines are approaching rapid. I'm panicking and that doesn't help. ;-) But you're right. I have to believe that the real rains will return...

  3. well, I just keep saying it, Jen. this was beautifully written. if i were you, i'd be able to find a lovelier way to say it, but we'll just have to go with this for now! xx


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