Friday, 17 July 2015



The Duality of Water


When spring arrived earlier this year it neglected to bring its usual box of rain. Our first month of summer in these parts has been unusually hot and of course, unusually dry. Western Canada is aflame with wildfires. Two Alberta counties have already declared agricultural disaster. Seven others are toeing the cracked, cropless crusts of soil within their boundaries and contemplating the obvious next step.


Extreme heat in an urban environment cooks up its own dynamic; flashpoint explosions of irritation are hair-trigger. It is murder weather in a concrete jungle misty with the campfire smell and haze of distant fires broiling in the rays of the big hot orange sun. Police sirens seem more frequent and that much closer. A brown lawn within city limits is a picayune complaint. We may be plagued with grasshoppers but at least there are no mosquitoes.


The light of summer’s days lingers at this latitude. Last night I cleared out the spent, straw poppy stocks from the bed in the front along the property line. Tantalizing, teasing drops of rain dripped from the cool grey sky. The soil roiling torrent hit around midnight. Ann and I sat outside on the front porch to watch the rain and the lightning, and listen to the thunder. We shared a few golden moments until the welcome water began to stream off the roof like quicksilver panes of glass.


Our home’s roof and eavestroughs are new, less than a year old. And we’d both been up on the roof 48 hours earlier searching for a breech as we’d been hearing worrisome critter scritching in the airspace between the soffit and the roof, squirrel action. Jesus, what’s nesting in the attic? The troughs were immaculate; between us we managed maybe two fistfuls of tree debris. The mouths of the downspouts were clear, gaping.

Water is the stuff of life, especially on a parched prairie. Water is also insidiously destructive as it will always find its own way through and into places where it’s unwanted. The cool, cool crystal rain poured down last night, too late for farmers, but much, much closer to home through an invisible gap between the edge of our roof and our eavestrough. Ann and I looked at each other: This is not good, all this rain.

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