Friday, 24 March
My family often accuses me of being a glass half-empty kind of person. Someone who imagines the worst-case scenario at every turn. While I admit that my mind can tend to misadventure, I would argue that in many instances, I am just being a realist, particularly when it comes to the stuff actually in the glass, water.
The Perche is known as a wet place. It has a reputation for lots of rain, and the region is veined with streams and small rivers, dotted with ponds. Geologically, it forms the watershed for the Seine and the Loire Rivers and is the source to others, such as the Eure (on which we used to have a house).
But like much of the rest of the planet, today it is climately challenged. In the four years we’ve lived here, there have been Aprils without a single shower, leading to some pretty sad May flowers and drought-stricken summers. This year the dry season began even earlier: between mid-January and early March not a single drop fell on much of France. Water tables were alarmingly low. While Météo France was already talking about sécheresse, most people complained about the weather not because of the lack of rain but because skies were grey.
Earlier postings may have led you to believe that during morning walks with Tasha, my eyes are riveted on the sky and my tree friends. But I am just as attentive to the ground under my feet and whether the grass is going swish-swash or crickle-crackle, whether the earth is soft and muddy or rock hard and fissured. On my walks from late autumn to spring, I obsessively check certain dips in the terrain to gauge their level of water, and this winter I watched them deplete with a heavy heart.
Fortunately, while we were in Berlin, the sky did its March thing and rained. We returned to this...
...which produced this...
These last two weeks, it has continued to rain enough to keep those puddle-meters full and happy and even sometimes - like this very morning - to spring offshoots.
By extension, I also keep a close eye on our ponds. There's the one right next to the lane whose life was saved when Claire and Estéban got it dredged and horror-film quantities of 40-year old cow dung came flowing forth.
Estéban tracks the pond's progress regularly and confirms it is now thriving with plants, insects and newts.
Given that I walk by every morning, it is a point of reference for me, one that I photograph in its different moods...
Under Estéban’s guidance, we also created two new ponds at the top of the property, along the edge of the woods. With the clay soil around here, a little tamping by the digger made them leak-free.
Life is taking hold in them too, and furthermore none of the three has gone dry even during droughts, meaning we're not only boosting the ecosystem but also giving animals a place to drink throughout the year. And later this spring - who knows - maybe some swallows will even dip in and use the surrounding mud to build new nests.
So while others bemoan our almost daily showers, I rejoice.
With a glass full to the brim.