Rain, Blessed Rain, Changes the Native Landscape
By Mark S. McDonald
Kindly excuse the hanky. When it rains here in God’s Own Wind Tunnel, it is cause for celebration, for gratitude, for pealing the cork on your best single malt, single barrel brown.
In a nine-day stretch, the rain gauges at Midland-Odessa Regional Airport captured 4-plus inches of moisture. Forgive my skepticism, and I know rain has to start some place and end another, those readings are all wet.
At the first wisp of a cloud, my rain gauges here at Stately McDonald Manor, “unofficial” as they may be, get hourly scrutiny. The IRS and the federal deficit should draw such attention.
Fact: I caught 9-plus inches of rain. Almost 10. This doubles my year-to-date, and equals all of calendar year 2013, when my native pecans were the size of marbles.
Neighbors caught 12 inches or better. Communities in SE New Mexico got 14 and had to evacuate the Pecos River drainage. At this writing, ranchers downstream are waiting for the manna from above. Rain blessed rain.
As a happy result, the desert has bloomed. Something we once called grass has sprouted fresh and verdant green again. Lake J.B. Thomas near Snyder, a dust bowl before, is up 15 feet and rising. The western side of the Llano Estacado, especially between Seminole and Roswell, looks like Ireland in May. Cancel your trip to Banff. I’ve traveled that way for 50-plus years. Never have I seen it so green as the blazer of a Masters champion.
Mushrooms have popped up in the most unlikely places, almost overnight. One sprang up between the bricks in my front yard planter. Now, that, friends is what I call optimism. Better check between your toes for new growth.
Wildlife is responding in kind. Whitetail deer, eating a steady diet of rocks only a week before, are flossing with lush strands of native forbs. Every creature — from raccoons to quail – find themselves suddenly surrounded by late-season greenery for cover and food. They can be seen break-dancing in the brush.
So, with showers in today’s forecast, is the withering drought broken? Can we kiss the drought goodbye, and good riddance?
Sighhh. More likely, the next West Texas drought has just begun.
The author, a lifelong hunter, angler and student of nature, is working on his next book, “They Gave Us Baseball – Now Look at What We’ve Done,” due for a 2015 release. When it sprinkles, he has been known to stand in it, his mouth open to the sky.