I sometimes bemoan the fact that summer in New Orleans means lots of rain and lawn mowing, currently twice a week for my poor husband, as well as constant trimming of plants that are continually in growth spurts -- not to mention an abundance of hearty weeds. Recently, however, I visited northwest Arkansas in the midst of a drought that is quickly turning once verdant lawns into dust bowls and flowerbeds into pitiful strips of shriveled yellow things. This in an area I always remembered as being a floral wonderland full of wildflowers, bountiful gardens, oversized lawns and towering green trees. It's been so dry there that during the entire week I visited, I never saw one person mow a lawn, and the number of tree leaves that are drying up and abandoning their holds on branches makes it look like the beginning of fall.
It all made me recall my early years growing up in West Texas, which at times resembles a barren wasteland. The first time I saw the movie Grapes of Wrath with the dust storm that drove the mother insane, I found it hard to understand her horror. I had spent the first 10 years of my life thinking the broom my mother always carried was a natural appendage and that only weeds grew without being planted and nurtured by a human hand.
It all served to make me appreciate living in New Orleans, where our subtropical climate means there always is something green to sow a seed of inspiration. Weeding, trimming and lawn mowing are less a pain in the neck than a blessing we enjoy for choosing to live here. I'll carry those good thoughts -- at least until the next flooding hits.