Saturday, July 9, 2011

Stormy Weather on the Way - I Hope!

Welcome to the world of climate change.  Except for months-long droughts in the summers of 1987 and 1988 (beginning the year after I bought my first house and began seriously planting gardens), my recollection of what summers used to be like in Milwaukee were enough rain, on average, once a week to keep a lawn naturally green with no supplemental watering, a streak of very hot and humid weather at the end of July sometimes stretching into the beginning of August, and the rest generally being in the high 70's to low 80's and temperate.  I was usually full of energy, not enervated by excessively high dew points (back then, the term "dew point" wasn't even used).  As a kid, I remember the Wisconsin climate being even cooler than 25 years ago.

Now, it's a fricking jungle out there in the summertime - and alternating flooding cloudbursts followed by searing weeks of drought are the new "norm."  It's tough on grass, tough on my plantings and trees, and especially tough on me.  I can't take the high dew points.  I wilt worse than lettuce. My energy disappears, my knees continuously ache and even with the AC on at night, I don't sleep well. We haven't had a drop of rain in 3 weeks, since our last local bout of flooding when we got 6 inches of rain in Greenfield (where I live) in less than 48 hours.  Some areas got more, some a little less. 

The temperatures have been high, the sun has been nearly constant since.  My front lawn is parched and turning brown (not to mention the sod web worm damage).  So is everyone else's.  Only a few people are watering.  Since water rates in Milwaukee have increased on average 28%, people aren't watering their lawns anymore.  So the city has managed to cut off its nose to spite its face.  I could have told them this would happen!  People would rather tolerate ugly browned out lawns than pay so much for water when we sit right on top of Lake Michigan.  It is obscenely ridiculous.  I'll bet when the next revenue report comes in usage will have decreased by MORE than the city hoped to make by jacking the average user's water bill into extortion territory.  So then the city will no doubt raise the rate by another 50%.  At that point, my backyard will brown out, too, and say goodbye flowers.  I'm still watering back there, but I won't if the rates increase any higher.

Yesterday was warm/hot but the dew point was hovering around 58 - not very comfortable for me but a far cry from the 68 to 70 that it will creep up to over the next few days.  YECH!  The relief was that it cooled down enough last night to not have to turn the AC on and I could sleep with my windows wide open, being lulled to sleep by the sounds of the night.  I got up about 6:15 a.m., had my coffee, and hit the front yard.  Because of the lack of rain, only the weedy grass grew at all, so I pulled out the electric hand shears and went at it.  The front lawn now looks presentable once again (where it isn't straw colored browned-out) and the edges have been neatly trimmed.  I hosed out the bird baths out back and cut myself a large bouquet of summer flowers.  I took some photos of my furry friends.  Let's see if they turned out:

Here's Grandma Squirrel.  She's very shrewd.  If she can't get my attention
by peering through the screen at the patio door, she climbs up the umbrella
and makes noises until I come to the patio door to throw her a nut!
Here she's munching away on top of a salvaged limb I'm "decomposing" that will
eventually be planted into the gardens as the "horns of the Goddess".  Lots
of leaf drop this year (you can see it piled up on the deck and on the table and chair - despite
sweeping every day) - caused by the new "normal" in rainfall and temperature patterns this spring,
floods, cold, drought, heat, floods again, drought, then excessive rains - and now drought again. 
Here's Ms. Chippy the Chipmunk - I thought I had the "zoom lens" on but guess not. 
She the youngest of a bumper crop of chipmunks this year.  Guess I need to cut back on my feeding.  She's
zeroing in on a hazelnut I threw out for one of the squirrels that missed it!
Squirrel, you've got to be brighter and faster than that - Ms. Chippy is always
hovering around the edges, waiting to pounce on an available nut!

Okay, I'm wasting way too much time doing this, LOL! It's nearly 9:30 a.m. already and the backyard needs a serious cutting. Still tolerably cool in the house but the front yard is now flooded with scorching sun, so I've got to get a move on. I know if I wait until the shade comes round the back yard about 2:30 I won't be in any mood to cut the grass at that point. So it must be now, despite the 10-to-2 window fast approaching. I'd rather burn now than sweat to death later as the dew point continues to rise. Tomorrow will be the worse day thus far of the summer - and with it the threat of severe weather including - I pray for - rain! When I finish up out back I'll shut down the house and turn on the AC.

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