|Ysabel de la Rosa|
It is a small pilgrimage for many of us: the trip to the nursery or home supply store to buy plants for spring. This year, in my part of the state, there are almost no plants for the buying. Here, all the world's a Stage 4: no watering outdoors. Spring has never felt so somber.
Standing bythe shelves that used to carry vinca, impatiens, petunias, marigolds, veronica, salvia, and so many other "friends," I feel bone-deep regret. "If only" moves into my brain to beat its drum.
Yesterday, a friend helped me rig a pump system that will send bath and shower water into a rain barrel outside the bathroom window. If only I had done this years ago.
I now keep a pitcher in the sink to collect "run-off" from washing hands, fruit, vegetables. If only I had been doing this for 20 years or more. It is so very easy to do.
If only we had all done easy things for 20 years or so, it could have, would have made such a difference.
I can't speak for everyone, but I didn't, because I could not believe that rain could sustain such a long absence. I have days now when I even contemplate the end of rain. I have already left off planning for it with regard to travel or outdoor activities, the likelihood of it occurring is so low and has been for so long. I didn't believe that we could not conserve our way out of a crisis. I didn't believe that a drought could last so long that conservation could not carry us through it.
Now I live what I once could not believe. I live through it with hope, of course, and with faith, but this summer, as I look at the barren planters on my porch and the beds I dug last fall where the flowers were going to grow, I understand, I feel that I am now living what I once could not believe. I will not plant anything new. I will hand carry saved water to trees and shrubs. I will spend more time than ever before taking less water than ever before to the treasured green space that greets my gaze every day.
Clouds gather behind the wind-tossed, budding trees this afternoon. My hope gathers with them. Not only a hope for rain, but also a hope that I have reached a new level of appreciation of the world "begotten, not made," a hope that I will not be guilty of taking a vital natural resource for granted ever again.