Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Drought

There’s no doubt about it, there is a drought. During football season I pay very little attention to the world outside of football, but when Joe and I checked the pond during the first week of November, and we found the mud flats dried out, cracked, and hard, I knew there wouldn’t be a good start to the season. But I still had hope. If we had a cold, wet December, maybe, just maybe, we could get some of the migratory birds, even if the local birds were a lost cause. November had been a cold month, but a cold December was not to be, and even though December is usually one of the wettest months here, there was hardly any rain. The drought continues, and there are no ducks on Briary River.

I can’t complain about Briary River though, I have hunted ducks here for the last twenty-five years. There have been good seasons, and bad seasons, with a lot more good than bad, and as long as I’ve hunted here, there has never been a year like this one, and hopefully, it will be a long time before we have another season like this one, we’ll see.

The drought has brought a dry spell on my writing as well, it’s kind of hard to write about duck hunting when there are no ducks to hunt. You really have to get creative writing duck hunting stories when you have no water and no ducks. Still, there are a few stories to tell, a few points to make, and a few conclusions that have been reached, so all is not lost. We continue on.

In the past, when we’ve had dry years, summer would end, fall would come, the sap would stop rising, we would get a little rain, and the water would rise. What scares me this year is the continuing lack of water. We have about two and a half months now to get some rain and raise the water level before the sap starts rising and spring comes. If we don’t get some rain before then, the trees will have nothing to draw up, they will draw up every drop of rain that falls, and that may not be enough.

Now there are things more important than duck hunting. Last summer it was so hot and dry for so long that trees started dying. Hardwoods that rely on surface water and small pines that hadn’t grown long enough to develop a deep tap root had a hard time. I don’t own a lot of land, but timber growth on the little bit I do own is important to my retirement.

Then there are the farmers. Their livelihood is drawn from the soil. When there is no moisture in the soil to start their crops, it’s going to be bad. When farmers can’t grow crops, everybody pays more for everything.

I heard someone say that this year is supposed to be an El NiƱo year, and if it is, this time next year we may very well be talking about too much water.

Well, the drought will end, sooner or later it will end. It’s just a matter of enduring until it does. Maybe, just maybe, it will end in time to send us a bird or two this year, but if it doesn’t, well, we’ll be OK anyway. As far as my drought of writing, maybe it’s ended already.


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