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Intricately Entwined in the Rhythms of Nature (or What's Happening with the Drought)

Posted Sep 08 2008 5:22am

So I'm out mowing the other morning (I posted about it on Sustainable Dunwoody this time) and I see Alan of the Appalachian Trail washing his car. Keep in mind that our ongoing drought means no driveway car washing, so, intrigued, I walk over to observe how a resourceful man who has hiked over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine washes his car.

With that little container of water and soap that he is holding. Period. He sprays, he wipes, he sprays, he wipes. The entire car.

The next day, a visiting parent of another neighbor saw me dumping kitchen water from my red buckets onto my mailbox garden and said, "So that's how you keep it looking good."

My younger daughter had a friend over and instead of playing in the sprinkler, as they haven't been able to do in two years now but which used to be a normal thing on a near-100-degree day after the community pool has closed for the season, they played a game of chess on the front lawn in the shade. At least for as long as they could stand it.

Atlanta hasn't gotten a drop of rain since Hurricane Fay two weeks ago, which raised Lake Lanier about two inches. It is still 18 feet low, however. The other recent hurricanes, Gustav and Hannah, bypassed us, and the projected path for Ike has it heading toward New Orleans yet again. I am grateful, of course, not to be in the path of a hurricane, but a slow, steady rain once a week would be welcomed.

My rain barrel is dry. My crops require hand-watering each night, now that the fall seeds are in. Despite the years-long drought, I don't know of any new reservoirs, wetland areas or extensive rain harvesting systems around Atlanta. In fact, I believe I still have the only rain barrel in my neighborhood. I've read talk of our interstate "water wars" extending to South Carolina now, but otherwise, the drought is barely in the news.

Yet we have changed. Slightly, but definitely. We carry buckets of water. We wash cars with little tiny containers of water, or not at all. We sweat in the heat instead of cool off in sprinklers. We turn off faucets. We fix leaks. We look the other way when lawns turn brown and flowers droop. We plant more native, drought-tolerant species when we do give a thought to landscaping. And we hope for a good rain instead of endless sunshine, like the millions of people before modern plumbing whose lives were intricately entwined in the rhythms of nature, and whose very survival depended on it.
Nurturing sustainability close to home and around the world. (And other food for thought!)

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