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Too little; too late

In to the Wind

July 18, 2012
By Mike Gilchrist , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Perhaps too little; perhaps too late, distant thunder rolls through the hills of South Tama County. Early morning mist rises from ground laid wet by gentle rain. Tufts of brown grass grab the droplets and hoard them like rare gems. Bluebirds sing and frolic in the gentle rain, washing weeks of dust from their feathers.

It has been weeks since we've had any rain of consequence. A persistent drought has settled into the heartland. I fear this rain, on a "coolish" morn, is merely a tease. It will take more rain than we are receiving, or even forecast to sate this determined dry spell.

Recent days have seen some records here at Gilly Hollow. Saturday, the outdoor thermometer recorded 103.8 degrees, which I believe is a record temperature here.

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Lack of rain earlier this summer stunted the strawberries. We harvested quite a lot, but they were smallish. The mulberry trees tried to bear fruit, but the berries were small and soon dried out in the scorching heat. The raspberry harvest was a non-event. Even the ever bearing variety we planted adjacent to the strawberry patch has not borne fruit.

The dogs are not as apt to run and play when it is this hot either. Things that used to pique their curiosity and compel them to explore are now just cause for a raised head and a knowing glance.

I love waking up early and stepping outside to listen to the sounds. One of the great sounds of nature is the dawn chorus as nature comes alive. Today the morning sounds were different than has been usual this summer. Besides the song of the ubiquitous bluebird, peals of thunder rolled through the hills. The sound of donkeys braying in some distant pasture floated on the mist. A distant train rumbled from afar, perhaps carrying Chinese goods to retailers on the east coast. A bold idea bounced inside my head, ricocheting against thoughts more carefully stolen.

While Elaine has diligently watered the plans in the garden every night, it has made little difference. I fear I will not be able to eat tomatoes from the yard this year. The only plants which seem to be bearing are some purple peppers we planted as an experiment.

It was a year ago yesterday that the Derecho of 7/11/11 struck Iowa and beyond. We lost over one hundred hardwood trees that day, and the communications tower here which serves our customers was bent over like a pretzel. It's amazing the difference one year can make. The only consolation to having a calm storm season so far is the lack of wind and lightning damage. I guess this might be the silver lining one must see in every cloud.

We have had a lot of visitors here this summer. Friends and family alike have joined us for cookouts and walks along some of the trails we've recovered in the timber. Many of the trails which were navigable a little over a year ago are still clogged by downed trees. It will be years before things are back to normal, if ever.

Loyal readers will know I appreciate a good metaphor. Because our garden has taken special care to even grow what little is growing, a familiar metaphor regarding the care and feeding of friends comes to mind.

A friendship is like a garden. If tended and weeded will grow and blossom. The garden will never reach perfection unless nurtured. If left unattended, the flowers will wither and die or at least be lost amongst the weeds. If carefully cultivated, new growth and new blossoms will spring forth in abundance.

I rejoice that I have been blessed with an abundance of friends. I hope to be able to tend to them and cultivate these friendships for a while longer.

A recent posting on Facebook received a lot of feedback and reminiscences from friends and family. It was regarding a memory of mine regarding a certain saying my mom had that was intended to put the fear in we kids and modify whatever behavior she didn't like at that moment. It flowed something like this:

As a lad, I never quite knew where Timbuktu was, but never wanted to find out either. On occasion, when mom had enough of sibling squabbling, she would admonish us by saying, "Cut it out or I'll knock you clear to Timbuktu!" Or was it Kalamazoo? Depending on the day, it could be either. None of us kids had ever been to either place, and the fear of landing there was usually enough to get the point and at least move our disputes out of ear range or desist completely.

I would be curious to hear from some of my readers regarding similar remembrances.

Until next time--

You can read past columns by visiting and clicking on the "Local Columns" button at the bottom of the page.

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2005 - 2012 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342.



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