The tassels on the corn came, bringing the warm pollen smell, amplified in the heat, but that smell didn't call up any rain. The golden silk emerged from the ears, and then dried and turned a deep brown. The plants themselves are doing that pineapple thing, where the leaves curl up and stick up straight. The other day Ursa got excited and chased a chicken into the brush near the back field. My dog is pretty well trained, but occasionally she forgets that she is. The little chicken hunkered down in the brush and I had a word with the dog. Then I had a closer look at the corn. The ears look like toy ears, and now with the husks beginning to dry, I don't think they'll have many kernels on them. I'm not really a farmer, and I don't know what Jim and Sean will say, but I sure hope the rest of the field doesn't look like this. We got a little rain when the pollen was rising, but not enough. I was here, too, for the drought of 88-89, the worst in U.S. history, maybe until now. I wasn't as tuned in to what was growing around me as I am now, but I do remember the fretful waiting, all summer, for rain that didn't come.
I walk around the yard with the hose every night and spot water the flowers. It just barely keeps them alive. Even native plants, like Jerusalem Artichoke and Black Eyed Susans are not just wilting, but dying. I don't water the lawn, only the flowers along my little path, and the vegetables. I think about the water cycle: How we depend on that aquifer; how we pull water out of it with no thought to how water gets there in the first place. Many years ago, maybe 15, a couple of scientists knocked on my door and asked permission to measure the water level in our well. Apparently it was an ongoing study. Being curious, I went out and watched them at their work. I asked if the water levels were going down. They had apparently measured our well before, and they told me that yes, the well was lower than it had been previously. At the time they told me not to worry too much, but that we should not think of our aquifer as limitless. According to The Mahomet AquiferConsortium, overpumpumping is the greatest threat to our water supply. I haven't seen those scientists lately, and not sure when they last measured the well in my back yard, but I look around and see how much more water we are using now. In fifteen years, how many new houses have been built just around here, with expansive lawns? How many new swimming pools? I try to conserve water in little ways—turning off the shower while I soap up, running the dishwasher (which I've heard uses less water than washing by hand) only when it's full. But how can that compete with industrial usage, which by some estimates is responsible for about 40% of consumption? How many more industries are sucking water out of our aquifer at unsustainable rates? The only way I see to protect our aquifer is to claim it as our aquifer. Let's call it “Grandmother” and honor it. Let's get educated, active and involved in our future here in this region. The waters of life may depend on it.
|DRINK IN BEAUTY;|
IMMERSE IN PEACE;
|THIS YEAR THE CORN IS |
DYING IN THE FIELDS