September 13, 2011

The Wings of Madness

                                                 Today I felt pass over me
                                                 A breath of wind from the wings of madness.
                                                                                                                        ~Charles Baudelaire

Do you remember the 1992 movie with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men?   Specifically the climactic court-martial scene where Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) yells "you can't handle the truth" at Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise)?  

Well this afternoon as I walked through the garden after another 105 degree day and my heart filled with despair, my mind was filled with Jack Nicholson's voice yelling "you can't handle the truth."   And you know what?  Sometimes, I think he's right.  

After 84 days and counting of 100+ degree days, Lake Travis 33 feet below normal and a deficit of 21 inches of rain, I can barely handle the truth that is my garden, my community, my city, my state.   The garden is to the point where I'm beginning to wonder if it's even worth irrigating the perennials because it just seems to be dragging out the inevitable.   Now that we've gone to 1 day per week watering restrictions and the temperatures remain in the 100 degree range, unless I spend a huge amount of time hand watering, they will die.  And then there is the guilt that comes with using the water.  The trees throughout the neighborhood and city look as if it's already late November.   Dried, brown leaves wander slowly to the ground leaving behind bare branches.

After reading Diane's recent post on The State of Texas it became even more clear that I'm not alone in my feelings of despair.  And I know it's not only Texas that suffers.  It seems we've all had our share of outrageous weather events during the past year.  

I'm not sure why I write this post except to proclaim that "today I felt pass over me a breath of wind from the wings of madness" but instead of giving myself over to the madness, I choose to focus instead on the resilience and tenacity of my garden, my community, my city, my state.  That is my truth and it's a truth I can handle.



  1. I am feeling that same despair when I look at the trees dying around the city, Cat. It's hard to remain optimistic as a gardener during this endless drought. By the same token, it feels a little selfish to care about one's own little garden when all of the state is suffering so. And yet all we can do is hang on and hope.

  2. You handled the photo very well. :)

    May you receive rain soon...

  3. Hey Cat,
    I would like to say I feel your pain, but I don't think north Texas is anywhere near where central Texas is in the drought department. I mean, dry is dry, but y'all are really suffering with drought, high temps, and fires. At least we had a break in the heat last week for a short bit. Are you doing BSF again this year? My teaching leader gave such a great illustration in our lesson last night about the drought. The world and all its people are like the brown, scorched land, starved for water to the point of death. We are all vulnerable to the destroying power of fire. We must have water to survive, and we must give water to protect others. We are not the source of the water -- we must have a lake or a deep well. Just as we are not the source of physical water, we are not the source of spiritual water either. Jesus is the source of spiritual water. Though we may not be the source, we can be the "hose" used to transport the water, that water that saves (as physical water saves our landscapes; spiritual water brings salvation, too). So the next time we are dragging our hoses around in an attempt to sustain the life of our precious plants, we can think about how we can be a spiritual hose to bring life to those in eternal need. Take care, dear blogging friend. I feel for you.

  4. Ou dear I feel guilt we have water without restrictions ever. It is so sad if your beautiful garden will die, it gives so much joy to you and we all over trough your pictures. I wish I could send you water just for your garden:)

  5. Hi Cat, hard to know what to say in the face of the challenges that you, and everyone in Texas, face right now. I am constantly amazed at the ability of people to stare into the face of apparent disaster and refuse to be overcome by it, though I also think that healthy survival also means doing what you have done here, acknowledge how bad things are before choosing to pick yourself up and go on.

  6. Your area has been hit with some of the worse nature has to throw at you this year. A resilience will be what shall come. Everyone seeing the news has Texas in their prayers. Prayers prevail...

  7. My heart aches for you and for all in Texas now.

  8. In past years, we have had two to four month drought periods sometimes with water restrictions, and it was such a struggle to keep the garden going. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be with this year's Texas weather. You are way overdue for a break. Your hopeful outlook is admirable, and I hope that as fall peeks around the corner, you somehow get a bit of moisture and cool weather.

  9. I think all of us in Central Texas..gardeners & non-gardeners...are feeling that despair...and some fear.
    Seeing so many trees...ones here for decades...suffering so from this drought. And, the wildlife is suffering so, too.
    Some of the deer here are looking like hide stretched across bones. More & more people are feeding, I think. But, for how long can that go on?
    We'll all come through this. Texans are a tough bunch.

  10. Cat, believe it or not I felt the same way yesterday when I went out to water. We aren't in near the same shape as you, however we are dry. And after our cool spell it went back to 98 yesterday.
    I must say though, when I was in San Antonio this summer people seemed to be pretty resilient but I could tell they were just hanging on by the thread. I lived in central texas during the 7 year drought in the late 90's but it wasn't near as bad. But you probably remember what followed that drought, a flood. thanks for commenting on my photo contest post, and my first choice was actually the one you liked, and yes that was basil. However, I chose the spent coneflowers with the artemisia background.

  11. Despair. That is exactly the word for it. The entire state is suffering. I am watching the trees on our property slowly die. It is like they are screaming. We Texans are resilient, though. And proud. We will make it through this trying time, and appreciate our gardens even more. Not sure when, but certain anyway.

  12. Cat, I am so sorry this is happening to you and your fellow Texans. I so wish I could send you our overabundance of rain that is literally killing some of my plants (though nothing like what you are going through). Please know my thoughts are with you. Carolyn

  13. I can't begin to say how thankful I am to have such a caring and thoughtful community of blogging friends. You and your gardens bring so much joy, encouragement and wisdom. Thank you. It's so nice to know gardening people are out there who care.

  14. Toni, I am doing BSF this year. They have changed the volunteer program for childcare and my class served today. Got to spend 2 hours holding babies! What a treat. And talk about putting things in perspective. Nothing like loving on babies to keep you thinking straight.

    Thanks for sharing your teaching leader's lecture. I will remember your story as I water. So true!

  15. Greggo, I hate to say it out loud but we both know what happens in Texas after a drought. Weather rarely ever comes gently around here.

  16. "I hate to say it out loud but we both know what happens in Texas after a drought."

    That's probably an extra-cold winter and lots of snow, you know, to finish off all of the extra-resilient plants (and gardeners) that made it through the summer.

    Have you ever watched the time-lapse movies of the clouds over the US during hurricane season? Some of them include almost the entire US, and it's going to be really interesting to watch the 2011 movie and see how the clouds avoid Texas all year long.

  17. Cat, I can only try to imagine what you must be going through. What a summer your state has had! The only saving grace is that nature is resilient. I have faith that the vegetation in your garden and neighbourhood will bounce back.

  18. Super foto pięknych kwiatów :)

  19. Cat, all I can do is echo what everyone else said, and that seems so trivial and ineffectual. We had a heat wave and drought that lasted just over 2 months last year. I was at the end of my rope, not just from the damage to our flowers but our vegetables and fruits suffered greatly too. Some things survived and bounced back. Others didn't. But WE survived.

    Unfortunately, once the drought ends, that really isn't the "end", as you have undoubtedly experienced before. The ground gets so dry and hard, it takes quite a while, and quite a few rains, before it can properly absorb water.

    One of our closest friends just moved from Austin to Wimberly and so we hear from her as well, first hand, just how difficult things are. Our prayers are with all of you, with hopes for respite and rain.

    In the meantime, water when and what is allowed and do not feel guilty. The are WILL recover because the plants you manage to bring through this will be able to help restore the ecosystem, which is critical. Your saving those few plants will help save and restore your little corner of the globe, and that is critical to Texas' long term recovery.


Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

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