Thursday and Friday have been hot. Triple-digit hot. Thursday was 101 degrees and Friday was 99 degrees. You get to middle of summer and you expect this kind of thing.
But Lord, since mid-April? This weather has been like what’s described in Leviticus 26:
19 I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. 20 Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit.
I really thank God for the breeze. It makes what would be otherwise intolerable heat into something you can be outside and do work in. But all around, the drought is felt, and you can literally hear it. The grass is as dry as broom straw, and makes the same noise as the wind ruffles it. The trees rustle in the wind; not with their characteristic swishing, but with a dry crackling noise.
God did give us a little break last week and we got a little bit of rain; a microscopic 0.17 inches. It was just enough to knock down the dust around here.
It also came with a gift: just for a day, everything didn’t smell like dust. I was setting up to go up to the upper meadow and mow down the tansy, and I noticed it.
The smell. Everything smelled like the good Earth. I could smell the lavender in the front bed, and as I walked toward the forest in the upper meadow, there it was – that cotton-candy smell of the summer forest. If I don’t get to smell it again until we get a good rain, I will remember it. It’s the smell of childhood camping trips; the smell of walking with my future wife through the forest, each step revealing to us a new facet of its beauty.
Last weekend, my job-list consisted of just one thing: Go pick up the tractor. I’d taken it to the dealer in Hood River for service; it was done and ready to come back. Once I got back, I’d see what else could be done with the rest of the daylight. So early in the morning I drove up to Hood River to rent a trailer, then pick up the tractor. Coming back with the tractor in tow, I drove through everything from downpour to drizzle; when I got home it was just a heavy drizzle, the kind that soaks you to the skin in about ten minutes.
Here, I’m driving the tractor off the trailer. What a great feeling to have it back, so I can do work.
You can see the hood’s wet, as was everything else on the tractor. And I’ll admit I have this thing about sitting on a soaking-wet tractor seat. I mean, I can work in the rain, no problem, as long as the seat is dry.
But with the grass wet from the drizzle, it was (so far) a no-go for mowing that afternoon, so the tractor went into the barn. When I finally got home after driving back up to Hood River to return the trailer, the meadows were still wet, so mowing had to wait until Sunday.
Sunday dawned cloudy and threatening, a perfect day to mow. The meadows were dry enough, and after brunch, away we go to mow tansy in the upper meadow.
I’m impressed by this machine; it’s so much more capable than my old tractor. I get into the tall stuff and it doesn’t even slow down, it just hacks right through it with the big finish mower as if it was a brush hog. I drove right into this little grove to knock down the tansy, and backed right out of it, without the tractor missing a beat.
I would never have tried that with the old machine. It would have taken me ten to fifteen minutes to go that 30 feet back in there and mow down those blackberry vines and finally get to that tansy. (Oh, and on the left, that’s goldenrod, not tansy.)
I got that all done, then the front meadow (“lawn”), and had started on the back meadow when I saw a flash in the distance. Even through my hearing protectors I heard the WHACK of the thunder.
I mowed on for a minute or so, then it occurred to me that I was sitting on a big metal machine, the tallest thing in the meadow for some distance around, and it had a big metal ROPS bar above my head. And it was starting to rain.
So I went back to the barn, cooling the machine off as I went. I swept all the chaff and dust off the machine and put it away. Today if it’s not too hot, I’ll pick up where I left off, and maybe go even out the mowing job in the upper meadow.