I watered my plants yesterday morning, which should have made it rain. This morning my husband was turning over the ground in the garden with a shovel and I was hoeing up the weeds when we felt a light sprinkle. Soon the sun was shining again. Now it's cloudy. The weather radar tells me rain is just to our west, so I hope it moves in soon. I don't even care about missing a bike ride so long as it rains.
We live in a drained swamp on the southeast side of Iowa City. Shady developers put in too few storm sewers for proper storm runoff and scraped the top soil off our backyard, sold it, and dumped concrete slag and other debris into our yard to fill it in. Every once in a while when it rains particularly hard, a pond we call "Lake Conzemius" forms.
Many years ago our former neighbors, Mike and Chris, delicately asked us if they and their two kids could ice scate on our pond when it froze in the winter. Lake Conzemius had become a neighborhood attraction in our common backyards, all backed up against each other with very few fences anywhere.
"Sure," we said.
I used to ice skate and play ice hockey on farm ponds when I was a kid. The difference was, those ponds were supposed to be there. Lake Conzemius isn't supposed to be there.
"Once you get some plants and trees in there, it'll dry up," our realtor said airily about 30 years ago at the Hy-Vee, once the ink was dry on our contract.
I'll admit, trees and bushes have made a difference, but the clay is still there and doesn't always drain properly. So if my garden is too dry, then I can imagine that grass, other gardens, and many crops of corn and soybeans are dry as well. My garden is usually too wet. Blight is a problem, the tomato blight that experts compare to the Potato Blight that caused the Irish Famine in the 1840s. Potatoes rotted in the ground and over a million Irish people starved to death.
Many of those Irish who didn't starve emigrated to Canada and the United States, including Iowa.
Right now rain clouds are directly to our west and the wind isn't blowing as hard as it was yesterday and the day before.
In a morning full of small tragedies, a baby bird sat sitting in the grass under our pine tree, alive and fully feathered. I hoped, as I crept away from picking up dead branches, that the little bird would make it. I think it's a robin. It looks like it could if it doesn't stay on the ground long enough for a predator to get it.
On the back deck, a baby grackle larger and fluffier than its parent cried for food and one of its parents obediently fed it, picking up bird seed and repeatedly thrusting it into the baby's mouth. Above the tableau of the baby grackle and its parent, another grackle lay dead on a bench built into the deck, its head and beak hanging down, its body limp.
If the baby bird makes it, I'll count the morning a success, especially since it's sprinkling now, just enough to give me hope it will rain, and rain hard.