Letter from Birdland: And still we wait for the rains to come ...

If you want to attract tiny, blue butterflies, just pour some water on the thirsty ground and let it soak in. Soon the damp place will have a flutter of hundreds of them.

They look like some petals of chicory or periwinkle have taken wing. Only I think either of those flowers would be more peaceful in their flight. These are in a positive frenzy, and maybe it is the heat.

We've been in drought for quite a while. In fact, the last rain we got here in Birdland was back when the corn was in tassel: more than six weeks ago. That last rain came just in time to save the corn crop, but we've not had any since. That means there will likely be kernels, but the ears will be very small.

In Birdland, we are still waiting for rain. Michael came home and told me a storm was brewing. My husband had heard it on the radio. He said it would be big. We could already feel the wind rising and Michael noted it was blowing from the east while we could see heavy clouds in the west.

He said it was the storm sucking the wind toward itself, to give it something to ride on. We watched it develop. On both edges I could see rain.

"But," I said, "It isn't very wide across. I don't think it will come here."

"It's still far away, yet," said Michael.

A few minutes later it had grown wider and closer. I could feel the hope rising. I began to smell the rain. We went inside to start dinner. When I went back out again to pick herbs for the salad just moments later, the whole storm had dissipated. I looked to the north and there it was. It had turned north at Monticello and skipped right over us.

I kept hope alive all night. I saw lightning in the south every time I awoke, but in the morning, the yard was dust-dry.

Yet the sedum and thistles bloom in spite of the drought. The thistles are not nearly as tall as usual, but are putting their energy into the flowers, which are every bit as bright.

The sedum begins slowly. A few weeks ago it was like green cauliflower heads, and has brightened to a light peachy gray color.

Both flowers are hosting pollen parties. I've seen honeybees and bumblebees as well as various butterflies take off from the big landing pads of sedum.

The butterflies are most festive, tittering around and bumping into each other. The bees seem more serious, going about their bee business without the partying.

The Jerusalem artichokes have burst out with sunshine. They are tall, and shading my vegetable patch, but I have good success despite the shade and the drought. The tomatoes are beginning to ripen, and the cucumbers have peaked.

The arugula has bolted, but I still pick the peppery leaves for the nightly salad. The yard is abuzz with big dragonflies, zooming this way and that. They visit us annually, flying in looping patterns about 15 feet up. They look like they're scooping up some kind of prey, but I don't know what. I don't see anything they could be eating, but their flight reminds me of the bats who visit nightly. I enjoy the aerial show.

We wait, and hope for rain, though it is too late to help the corn. The stalks are turning from green to gold, the silks from blonde to brunette. Rain now won't swell the kernels any, already hardening on the cobs, but it might help the beans, which are starting to turn over their leaves, showing signs of stress.

I've done everything I can do to call up a good thunderstorm: left the laundry hanging all night long. Last night, clouds came up in the evening and the power flickered once, but we got not one drop.

We'll keep hoping and try not to worry.

Michael just came in from watering the flowers, his nightly meditation.

"Did you see the dragonflies?" he asked. "There are dragonflies and cicadas. One is quiet and busy, and the other is loud and lazy. It's like the trees are singing."

Sing in beauty; circle in peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is still hoping for rain. You can read more of her writings at http://www.letterfrombirdland.com. Hays can be reached at letterfrombirdland@gmail.com.

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