Looking out at the park today, the chapparal-covered mountains are dusty green between huge granite outcroppings. Below, the open spaces where wild grasses and wildflowers grow abundantly during spring, the land is golden with dark-green dots of brush here and there. Last vestiges of spring grow where chapparal and open space meet. Here, the last wildflowers of the season bloom with splashes of red, yellow, purple, and white.
At home, our grass echoes the dead grasses of the park. Water restrictions allow us to water grass once a week, which is not enough to keep it alive in warm weather. One good thing, though, is that Sadie’s and Teddy’s offerings are in stark contrast to the dead lawn. John, who has poop-seeking toes, is now forewarned. But the dried grass has a dry and scratchy feel to it, both visually and tactually—the exact opposite of lush, vibrant-green, natural turf.
In the neighborhood, there are some suspiciously bright-green lawns. Most of these are artificial turf. Some are not. Fines for not cutting back on water consumption are steep, and restrictions can be enacted. But for some of us, dead grass has become a status symbol and a reminder that we are in an historic drought. Our lawn will be soon be replaced with a drought-tolerant landscape. I will miss the calm, cooling slash of verdant green in our garden. I also feel we have come late to the party in saying goodbye to our grass.
While pools can be refilled, they are required to have a covering. Our pool is covered with floating disks to keep water evaporation down. Frankly, they are quite ugly. Between the disks, which also warm the water and the solar pool heater, the water temperature is like a bathtub. For Teddy and Sadie, the good news is that they can still bark at the bubbles as the filter switches on—and now they have something new to investigate.
Drip systems are allowed for plants. The roses are thriving, as are the 36 butterfly bushes we planted on our new fence last year. Yesterday, I saw a common but rarely seen mourning cloak butterfly perched on one of the white, cone-shaped butterfly-bush blossoms. Its black-velvet wings edged in gold and dotted with blue opened and closed as it sipped nectar. I also saw a small neon-blue dragonfly balancing on the top of what will be a cactus flower. When I see rare visitors in the garden, I become very still and absorb the creativity of nature. And I always wonder, Why don’t I have my camera with me? I’m beginning to think it is enough that I experience these special moments in the garden and that I save them in the cloud of memory, rather than the iCloud.
As available water sources dry up, we keep the bird baths and fountains filled. Some creatures bathe and drink out of the uncovered spa, including the neighbor’s cat, who keeps a wary eye out for the canines. All the bird feeders are topped up, so we try to help nature out a bit. And there is still pleasure to be had in the garden. Yesterday, as the thermometer hit 90F degrees, I sat in the shade and read while a light breeze kept me cool and comfortable. Despite the heat and the drought, I always find peace and restoration by immersing myself in nature.
Today, another rare visitor arrived—an electric storm . . .
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and have my senses put in order.—John Burroughs