Sunday, July 8, 2012

Home for the Drought

My US trip is coming to a close. It's been hot. No, I mean really hot. This year it was so hot and dry on July 4th that the counties surrounding Nashville banned the private use of fireworks. The result of this intense heat is that my body--in effect me--has had to yo-yo between baking and freezing, freezing and baking every day. The air-conditioning is killing me.

This reminds me of a trip to Dubai probably ten years ago. It must have been 110 degrees in the shade (and there is precious little shade in Dubai). On the first day of our trip, we thought swimming in the hotel's pool would provide some relief from the heat. We were wrong. In Dubai the pools are cooled (ala freezing-baking, baking-freezing from above). I suppose this might be great for your immune system (or if you're undergoing therapy for schizophrenia), but I found it unhelpful in both cases.

Back to Tennessee and the drought of 2012. My parents live out in the country barely inside the "city" limits of a tiny town called Nolensville. They haven't had to mow their football field-sized lawn in weeks and weeks because it hasn't rained in weeks and weeks. They have sparingly watered their organic garden. Two days ago a letter came from the city instructing residents when they are allowed to water their lawns and gardens: odd-numbered addresses M-W-F, even-numbered address T-Th-Sa for three hours between midnight and 3 a.m. I'm sure there was a run on sprinkler timers at the hardware store after the good residents of Williamson county read this missive.

The drought has devastated crops across the state. Mercifully, my father's green beans made early this year, a week before the drought started. My father's green beans become my mother's green beans when she puts them up--in jars for those of you unfamiliar with Southern idiom. This year my mother put up 131 quarts of green beans. Her green beans are the tastiest green beans in the world.

On Friday, my father harvested the corn, which meant I had to shuck it. I haven't shucked corn in decades, but it's kind of like riding a bike or singing Amazing Grace. It comes back to you. I kept a ladybug jar at my feet, and I set them free among the tomato plants after I shucked 100 ears of corn, each ear kernel-less from the tip down an inch from the drought. Have you ever had corn on the cob fresh from the garden? I have . . . at least ten times this week. And tomatoes. And okra. And beets. And potatoes. And kale. And spinach. And squash. God bless my organic-farmer daddy.

My parents compost everything. They waste not. And they try to stay as organic as possible when it comes to the garden. And now they have help. A battalion of purple martins has moved in to the martin house at the corner of the garden. They whir and buzz overhead, often swooping down within a foot of my father's head. He seems to like it. There are about ten of them right now, but I've told him if the power lines start filling up with them, he should run for the hills.

Last night, the heavens opened up, at least in Hillsboro Village in Nashville, and it lashed for at least 20 minutes outside Boscos where I was having a great time with a close friend. Still, not a drop in Nolensville.

If you haven't already read my story "When Chase Prays Chocolate" at SmokeLong Quarterly, swing by. HERE

I must be off,


Christopher Allen writes fiction, creative non-fiction and of course this here blog. His work has appeared in numerous places both online and in print. Read more about him HERE.