We are dry here in the Pacific Northwest; dry, dusty, and hot. Our days without measurable rain are headed for an all-time record. Already we are in the top five of longest duration periods without rain. While hiking on the Washington coast recently, I took a few moments in three different areas to check soil conditions. Dry. Desiccating-moss dry. Here at home, my time-tested practice of watering sparingly (or sometimes not at all) has been put aside and I now water weekly. This 30+ year old landscape will not die on my watch.
A sure sign of drought in an area is how much wildlife a gardener finds in their garden in early mornings. I have a fish pond, stocked with fish and plants, that supports countless bees and wasps who perch on the plants to drink. Birds bath in the splash from the fountain and then fly a few feet to the birdbath to drink. And for those four-legged critters and large birds who visit, I have a shallow basin I fill with water each morning. Sometimes it is empty by mid-afternoon so I refill it in the afternoon if/when I have time. On those days when I am too busy to refill the basin, some creature will notify me that it’s empty – usually our resident crow.
A day or two after returning from vacation, I was sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast when I heard what sounded like a fight between rival gangs of canine squeaky toys. It was an amusingly confusing sound, and it was coming from the front yard where I place the water basin. I looked out the window to find the source of the noise. What I saw was so funny that it I could barely keep from laughing out loud (my spouse was still asleep). Four or five squirrels (they moved so fast it was hard to count) were fighting over the water basin. And from what I saw, they were so busy fighting that none of them stopped to drink. They would run around each other, attempting to nip another’s tail or haunch, jump straight up and spin down, squeal, squeak, and bark, or jump over each other. Most of these little guys looked to be adult size, but one was very small and thin. It is often said that the littlest creature can pack the biggest punch and the loudest bark. Apparently that’s true because in this case, the littlest creature let out most dramatic sound I’ve heard yet from any squirrel. This brought the commotion to an immediate stand-still, and then – poof! All but the little guy remained. And, he had the basin to himself.
I wish you good gardening, polite visitors, and rain.