July 9, 2011

We complain when there’s too much and when there’s not enough. It’s not until there’s no rain at all that we appreciate just how much we need it, how much the earth needs it.

Here in the Perigord region of France there’s been an official drought for over a month now. The lakes are drying up and the rivers are flowing slowly.

In Ireland we’re not used to the word ‘drought’. We find it unsettling when we haven’t had any rain for a couple of weeks, but even then our temperatures aren’t hot enough to bake the soil so dry its dust when you walk through it.

Today it rained in Champagne-et-Fontaine and the birds are singing. The steam rises from the grass and you can almost imagine the roots reaching for what little thirst quenching nourishment they can find. For the past month here the temperatures have been in their 30s, even 40s on some occasions. As pale skinned tourists we’ve loved the heat, basked in it with nothing else to do but smother ourselves in suntan lotion, read, relax and swim in the fresh water rivers with the dragonflies and tiny fish.

However, as a gardener I feel for the people here, the plants and the wildlife. What can you do when all the water-butts are empty, there’s a hose pipe ban and water becomes such a precious commodity that the allotmenteers have to pee in their watering cans?

Nothing – there’s nothing you can do. You just have to be patient and try not to despair as you watch your vegetables wither. You have to wait for some rain to fall soon and maybe if you’re that way inclined, pray.

Hopefully it will rain some more here and hopefully it will be during the night-time because, lets face it, we’re only human and don’t really want to spend our days in the rain. But when the grey clouds do cover the blue sky and the raindrops fall we will rejoice that for now everyone and eveverything is smiling.

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