God's Gift of Rain: A Poem
What Rain Does
God's Gift of Rain
Rain is contentment slipping from the sky,
A minstrel coaxing me to sleep.
It pours itself into the sun-dried earth
Which gratefully receives it.
Waking up the drowsy vegetables
Which languish in the sun.
The river, too, is waiting for the rain
To resurrect it. Islands in the sand
Yearn for the return of flowing water.
But the tiny plants know their end is near,
For they will drown as rain comes down.
The shore awaits its turn
to meet the river's current
and wonders if again this year
a flood will trespass
onto its domain of foliage
The trees stand patient.
They suffer less than their small cousins
Whose thirsty roots cannot extend
To reach the water far beneath the bed
From which the trees are fed.
The drought is over.
Earth again is green
As rain distills its blessings on
Contented sod, and grateful people
Offer praise to God.
Into the Dry Season
After the Rain
Unwatered Lawn in July in Paso Robles
Rain and Drought in North San Luis Obispo County
North San Luis Obispo County where I live often has dry years. Sometimes they are so dry the city of Paso Robles rations water for landscaping and lawns begin to get brown. Homeowners with lawns hope the rains will come early so their yards will look green again.
Even the parks often go without irrigation. Lawrence Moore Park, where these pictures were taken, is only partially irrigated. There is drip irrigation for some of the native plants the city planted, but most of the grasslands go unirrigated. As you can see in the picture, even by June, after only a couple of months without rain, they go from green to brown, and they remain brown until until the rains begin again in fall or winter, depending upon whether it's a drought year.
The trees in the park have long roots which extend into the underground river that is invisible in summer, so they survive. Trees in the park include cottonwood, willow, oak, and sycamore. The weeds that had flourished after the rains in winter and early spring die during the summer and autumn when they've had no falling rain to water them.
During the summer it can get very hot in Paso Robles. Often it will be triple digits for days a time, so during water rationing, not only lawns, but other parts of the landscaping will suffer. Vegetables which can be watered weekly in normal weather might need daily watering during very hot weeks, especially those grown in containers, as most of mine were last year.
The river, of course, suffers most of all in summer. By July or August, it normally becomes invisible. You can see the difference in my hub, The Seasons of the Salinas River. During summer, instead of water in the Salinas River, you are likely to find people walking their dogs. There is one far channel of the river closest to the west bank that retains water longer than the rest, and you often will not realize it's there unless you completely walk across the rest of the river bed from the park side to check on it. The picture below shows how the river looked by June 19, 2011. There is only a trickle of water left in another small channel, but that doesn't show in this picture.
After the rains begin in autumn or winter, people begin to check to see if water is visible in the riverbed. It's normally there by January or February after we've had a lot of rain. But we've had early rains in this fall of 2011, and I will probably check this afternoon if I have time to see if water has returned to the river yet as we near Thanksgiving.
The Salinas Riverbed on June 19, 2011
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