The Happy Disbelief of Our First Rain

sayle apr2 firstrain.jpg

Photo by Carol Ann Sayle

An unfamiliar sound woke us in the wee hours of the morning. Larry and I thought it must be the recycling factory just a half block from us, but their sounds are usually more dramatic, and sound like a beer joint is being bombed (all those bottles exploding). Nope. And it certainly wasn't the sound of a predator in the Hen House. I know those sounds by heart. Nor was it a bus zooming along on the street out front.

In the fields, the plants were lifting their dusty leaves to the sky, giving thanks and channeling the moisture to the dry soil at their roots.

I opened the front door. It was rain! The first few drops we've had in over three months. It continued, gently, as we dressed and made our coffee--even as the television weatherman warned that this bit of rain wasn't going to alleviate our year-long F-5 drought. "So don't get too excited," he said. But we did anyway. And in the fields, the plants were lifting their dusty leaves to the sky, giving thanks and channeling the moisture to the dry soil at their roots.

Stunned, the helpers called to ask if they needed to come in. All winter long, we've worked with desiccated soil, low humidity, and dusty, gusty winds. They've forgotten that in the past, we work in the fields right through a rain, relishing it during times of need. But today, the Marias--mother and daughter who share the name--will come in a bit later to harvest salad mixes, while the elder Maria's husband, Don Lupe, sits at home. With his bad leg, he works at a low altitude, crawling along, planting transplants or cutting spent broccoli stalks off at the ground. Crawling through mud is not as pleasant a task as you might think, although if you are in a drought, it could be considered at least a novelty or perhaps even a pleasure.

All of us on the farm are committed to doing whatever it takes to get crops grown and harvested, and after experiencing 18 alternating years of drought, then flood, and then drought and flood again, we take what we get and we adapt.

Well, I should say we're not above griping, but what can you do about the weather? That's right. Nothing.

The hens should have made an early morning phone call, too. As they exited the Hen House, they looked at the puddles suspiciously. "Oh, darn, no dust baths today!" they probably thought. But then they got busy with new possibilities. Perhaps worms would come to the surface. But no, we didn't get that much rain.

The broccoli, lettuce, carrots, greens, fennel, and cabbage, however, got their first baths in months and they, and we, are ecstatic!

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Carol Ann Sayle is co-founder and co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm, a five-acre urban, organic farm in Austin, Texas.

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