The Time It Never Rained
In that novel, he wrote about West Texas, the drought of the 1950s, and the cowboys and the cattle that suffered under the brutal onslaught of heat, wind, and no rain. Today, I felt that same suffering as I filled up the cattle troughs with well water – the scorching sun making it uncomfortable just standing in the straw-dry grass. I glanced around and saw mostly rocks in the pasture – very little in the way of grass or brush that the few cows I have could eat. There’s several burros too – not much for them to eat either. The big round bale of hay is dry as sand, but they all chew on it – occasionally.
Lately, deer have been drinking out of the bird bath – something else I fill up with water every day. A doe and fawn approach carefully at first, but after several days of visiting and drinking, they’re like old friends. The dog and the cats look at them from the shade of the patio, not moving, not caring that wild things are nearby. Even a four-point buck has begun visiting the same bird bath. He, like the doe and the fawn, is skinny as a rail. I can’t imagine the deer hunters will be too impressed when they haul in from the cities this fall in search of their trophies. There’s some trophies here…all of them sad, thirsty, and bony.
The wind blows as if we really are in West Texas. It used to quit blowing when the sun went down, but now it blows on through the night, rattling the planks on the house outside the bedroom. When day dawns, it’s still breezy outside. And the sun’s not even up.
Nine inches of rain – that’s it for this year. And we’re past the rainy months of April and May. The lakes are 25 feet below normal. There’s not enough flow to go tubing in New Braunfels on the Comal River. Well, technically you could float down the river, but there’re 10,000 people in the water already. Cops hold up a crowd and their tubes and ice chests on the river bank until there’s room for them to jump in too. Why bother?
I spent a week out of state recently. My thoughts were back home and I worried about the drought and the lack of rain. It was 83 degrees where I was. It even rained one day. People there just didn’t get it – even though I tried to explain how intense the sun was, how uncomfortable it was to be out in it. “It’s always hot in Texas, isn’t it?” they asked. I nodded and gave up. I guess I should’ve just said, “This is the time it never rained.” I think about that line as the wind blows without ceasing.