Friday, June 15, 2012

Fieldwork Friday: Lean Times

Here in the upper Arkansas River valley we're accustomed to dry. The Continental Divide defines our western county boundary: Pacific moisture tends to stay on the other side of the Divide and here in the rainshadow a typical year brings us a scant 10 inches of precipitation.

This is not a typical year.

Even the high country received paltry little snow last winter and by the end of May the highest peaks of the Sawatch Range already looked as brown as August. The path under the F Street bridge, usually flooded with runoff and impassable this time of year, has barely even been damp this season.

A newspaper headline last week declared area snowpack down to 4% of normal. We're not just dry, we're dessicated. This weekend is the annual FIBArk whitewater festival and yesterday we saw heavy equipment in the river, moving rocks to create some sort of flow for the raft and kayak races. At least one event had to be cancelled because of low water. I've been in this valley ten years, and I've never seen it like this.

I can't decide if it's strange or completely natural, then, that I would choose to spend my drawing time today absorbed in dry plant material. I've been longing for something lush and green, but here I am engrossed in brittle and brown!  I love the twisty aspect of this chunk of vine, though, drawn from three different angles. Maybe it's a good reminder that we never know what's ahead, and that maybe those gathering dark clouds will drop a little wet cheer. Rain on tomorrow morning's parade? Bring it.

Dry vines from my friend Nicky's garden

Long Lake is long on dirt and short on water this year.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, it's ugly all right. Sigh. If this is global climate change, I already don't like it. If'n you're looking for some wildflowers another time, come draw in my yard--I pretended it was snowing a couple of times this spring, so my grassland's in fair shape, considering. ;)