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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Weathering disappointments

Back in April there was no reason to think this wouldn’t be a typical gardening season. Various weather phenomena were jockeying for position—spring rain, late snow, cool sunny days, warm spells.

Everything seemed normal in April

     Drought was in the running, but no one thought it could win. It was offensive, and it just didn’t fit with our New England (horti)culture. After all, we were well-informed, progressive gardeners. We knew our history, and we knew the climate wouldn’t deal us such a blow.

Not In Our Back Yard

    June and July were awfully dry. Against all odds, drought seemed to be pulling ahead. Other weather options tried to compete. Heat and humidity made a bid for the top slot. They seemed much more likely to win. Their kind had always won in the past. Clearly drought was going to fade. It couldn’t make a sustained run. We could all see its deficits. It wouldn’t supply the needs of our plants. It was just a matter of time until rain would take the lead, and we’d be back to a normal gardening summer.

    Pundits explained that drought was bound to fizzle out. Statistics showed that summer rain was by far the more likely pattern. Comparing this summer to previous ones, it was obvious that drought couldn’t maintain a lead in New England.  It might hold on in the Western states, but not here.

Clearly drought couldn't last

Everyone we knew was in favor of rain. It was more popular than ever. In the past eight years, rain had started us on the right path. Rain had promoted new growth that we all wanted to continue. Anyone could see that a balance of rain and sun was in everyone’s interest.

On a green path in years past

    As the summer dragged on, drought brought out the worst in us. It was tempting to water our own yards and forget about the gardeners who couldn’t. People were angry. 

Green grass wins out over community spirit

    We weren’t surprised when a scandal hit the news: drought was assaulting our most vulnerable plants. That was sure to clinch its defeat. There was a wave of outrage. State officials warned that if drought continued in the lead, crops would be destroyed and endangered animals would die. 

Drought was destructive

Gardeners would need to water less. We’d make some sacrifices for the common good. But that would turn the tide, surely.

    Despite some fall rain, a late October dirty trick put drought back on top. We hoped no one would be fooled.

    You all know the end of this story. Tuesday night we sat down to watch the returns, nervous but still certain that drought would be defeated. That’s what all the experts predicted. Rain was going to come, and we could stop worrying.

    Instead, we woke up Wednesday morning to face the reality: drought was still with us. In fact, we’d be dealing with the painful consequences for a long time to come.

    Fortunately the gardening world is made new every spring. We can still hope that winter snow and spring rain will bring lush gardens next summer. If only other disappointments faded as fast.

Gardens may be green next year, but will we lose our last chance to slow climate change?

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