I wrote this last night, and with the news of an oncoming heat wave later this week, I’m definitely scared for the rest of this summer.
My mind can almost hear the terrified screams of the box turtles, snakes, rabbits, mice, and all the other inhabitants of the field, almost as audibly as the distressed clicks and clacks of the red-wing black birds, as they watch their lives change in a single instance, as they watch the nests they tirelessly toiled to construct months ago, raised one brood of chicks, and guarded with their lives. And now it’s all gone. I walk beneath the pin oak tree in the yard, situated between the garden and the field, and the black birds violently scold me, knowing that I and all humans in the vicinity are fully responsible for the destruction of their lives, and of the sad realization that tonight will be their first night in many months without the comfort of their nests. I know that when next I take a walk around the field, I will find many smashed box turtle shells, chopped up rabbits and snakes, and there was nothing I could do to stop the destruction.
No way I could have prevented it, because while I pity the animals affected, I still also pity the small-time farmer who is riding in the seat of the tractor, directing the blades of the mower to chop up our old, overgrown field. Max told mom this morning that he would be back in a week or so. He was back within the hour, ready to cut our poor hay and bale it like he does every year, but he is early this year. Mom tries to hold him off until she is sure the black birds have finished their nesting, but Max is desperate this year. He reckons he will have to sell some of his cows this fall, because he will not have enough to feed them all this winter, and little pasture for them now as it is. A situation we have heard over and over this late spring and early summer.
Momma says that a drought year is a sad year, and she is right. I have never known a year like this year, and it scares me. An increase in raccoon attacks, rabbits munching on garden plants that have been hosed down with rotten eggs, chipmunk destruction, squirrels digging into their winter stores, and mom and I scurrying around attempting to water as much of the garden as possible – this and more is an experience I have never known. We have always had a rainy May and June, at least as long as I can remember (which isn’t that long, but still). Conversations always manage to wind back to the drought, and hopes for rain soon. The drought is first and foremost on our minds, as we strive to save our own garden, while watching the tractors pulling balers down the highway, while listening to farmers sigh and shake their heads at the short wheat, and the almost non-existent straw being cut, and all watch and wait with bated breath for the critical time of tasseling corn, for when the corn tassels, rain is needed, or else there will be no corn harvest this year, and that is a very scary thought indeed. It has happened before, and it will likely happen again. If it is to be this year, we will see in just a couple of weeks.