photo-18

The prairie grass is greening,
trees along the creek are leafing.
The first greens
are vibrant.
All looks well,
healthy,
on the prairie.
All that new, tender green—
there seems to be water,
somewhere..

The prairie is
like that—
an ecosystem
where plants and grasses adapt
to the cycle of floods and droughts.
During the dry decades, the native species
transfer their sugars and proteins
from their leaves to their deep roots and rhizomes
and live frugally
underground.
With a little rain now and then,
there is greening above the soil.

It’s where humans have inserted ourselves
that we feel the drought:
we plant crops,
build ponds. These are not part
of the natural prairie system,
though essential to our ways.
A glance
at the greening,
at water still shimmering
in some ponds,
and drought conditions
might not be so apparent.
But some ponds are dry,
again.
And look closely at the pond banks
where there still is some water,
and those banks have grown
extensively.
This drought is a long one.
The Big Pond our father built
after the dust bowl days
went dry in July 2011,
for five months. After a few
three-inch rains it filled again.
But we haven’t had a three-inch rain
in a couple of years. We didn’t swim
in the pond last summer,
it was so low. The banks
are rapidly growing wider, drier.
And then one day last week
Ann looked out
and saw Sadie walking
through the water
from one island to another.
She walked across the pond
without getting her back
wet.