Irrigation ditch with trees and fog

The weather finally broke. Yesterday was all clouds and soft showers. Today is the same. We had a couple of small frosts in September, but for the most part, it was more fire weather. Hot dry days and wind. So dry that watering doesn’t really work anymore. The last few weeks, I’ve just been survival watering. Trying to keep new plants alive, trying to keep trees from dying. You can feel the water evaporating as it comes out of the hose, puddling up on ground that’s gone hard as clay.

According to the local paper, we’ve had 8.36 inches of rain this year. Normal is about 11 inches. Neither of those is enough, which is why our agriculture, and our gardens, rely on irrigation. The ditch above probably has a day or two of water left in it, it’s been going down steadily the last few days. I’m pretty sure it’s been turned off at the headgate. The Yellowstone is all gravel bars, lower than I’ve ever seen it this time of year.

Despite being ready for it all just to end, being impatient for snow, an impatience along the lines of “burn it all down” but in this case “freeze it all” — despite that, my nasturtiums came in so late, the weeks of 100 degree temps put them in suspended animation for most of June and July, just little 2 leaf sprouts, neither dying nor growing — they came in so late that I wanted to draw them out, revel in the their perfect green and gold and orange and deep red. So I got out the old sheets, the long white frost tarps, and swaddled the nasturtiums, the cosmos, the last of the tomatoes. Monday we’re due for snow, so I expect this weekend I’ll be pulling the tender annuals, piling them in the compost, shovelling chicken-litter-straw into the raised beds to protect them for winter, to add organic matter to the soil.

It feels a little tiny bit like some of the pressure of the summer is lifting. We still have the worst COVID infection rates in the nation, but folks seem to be back in masks in the store. The worst of the tourists seem to have dispersed, and the traffic to my morning dog walk is not fraught with so many people passing multiple vehicles at one time. The hunters will be here soon, but we’re in that brief moment between seasons, when we stack wood, and I put up preserves, and we get ready for what should be six or seven months of snow and cold weather.

You can feel it sometimes, when the pent-up energy starts to break. I got headhunted for what looks to be a really great new job, with people who have been so welcoming and nice that even someone as skittish about corporate life as I am is feeling hopeful. Himself sold a house he bought 20 years ago and has rented long term ever since — it was his version of saving for retirement, and so now there’s a little cushion, which is making us both breathe easier. And we’ve got a tiny vacation coming up — a few days drive around the Olympic peninsula, down the Oregon coast. I’m not an ocean person, but I’ve been desperate for cold and fog and big crashing waves.

And my book has a shape. I fought to write a piece for weeks this summer, before realizing I’d already written it, that I had it in a draft I’d discarded. Turns out it’s all pretty much there — a skeleton of a book, with 60K words, most of which need a rewrite, but now that I can see them, can see the shape of the thing, well, it’s another reason to look forward to winter.

All the big problems are still there, as the world as we know it cracks at the seams, but for the moment we have a little breather. I walked this morning, and while everything is still dry, there’s a lovely wet fog hanging in the grass. I came back with wet boots, and a wet dog. We have a moment to stack the wood, and dry the mushrooms, and stock the freezer and hope that the healing snows we need descend on us soon.

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