Dry Land Diaries is a series of first-person accounts of how Kansas Citians are coping with this hot, dry summer. Read others at KansasCity.com. To share your story, send email to email@example.com. Put Dry Land Diaries in the subject line, and include your contact information.
The beauty of a Kansas summer
My Atchison home, built in 1869, has no air conditioning but good cross breeze. My truck with 350,345 miles on it has no AC. My yard is planted with drought-resistant perennials that are spent mounds of yellow against brown grass.
I listen as bluejays fly through white skies calling out Dry, Dry. I enjoy the fragrant fields as I drive with windows down. I sit on my porch at night and watch the moon vines open and breathe in the heavy scent from sweet gum trees. I fall asleep lying on towels that I have kept in the freezer all day.
And I appreciate the beauty of Kansas in the summer and admire the resilience of the Kansas people, who rise from hard times. And after this long period of drought and want, I will dance in the rain when it comes.
| Katherine St. John, Atchison, Kan.
His fathers son
Surveying daily the scene around me, Im reminded of the opening line of a song made famous by Sons of the Pioneers: All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water. And its then I think of my late father, who was especially fond of Cool Water and frequently listened to the western classic when I was growing up.
Like my father did one hot, dry summer many years ago, Ive devised a makeshift birdbath for the benefit of my feathered friends. The oh-so-precious water in the shallow plastic tray atop the plastic wheelbarrow in Moms backyard quickly proved to be a big hit with the birds, and thus far Mr. Squirrel and Mrs. Rabbit have largely avoided the area. But they, too, are certainly welcome to drink freely from the fountain, this source of sustenance in an otherwise brutal environment. Dad wouldnt have it any other way.
Well aware that the young native plum trees in the backyard represent some of the offspring of the mature trees in the side yard Dad transplanted there as saplings in the late 60s, I take care to see that they get their share of the condensation produced by the air conditioner. Both my domesticated blackberry plants and my wild blackberry plants, all of which have suffered mightily of late, also benefit from this manmade supply, meager as it is when the humidity is relatively low.
But its the garden, in particular the tomato crop, I most associate with Dad. So every time I think of him and begin to cry, I make sure Im near one of the many tomato-less plants whose leaves are curled up, just begging for a little relief. Itd be a crying shame to waste the water.
| Rick Nichols, Leavenworth