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Dry Spell

“If I wasn’t watering, the garden would be shriveled. Water at night and it’s dry by morning. Like you didn’t do anything.” My dad shares this same lament each morning. We are in a dry pattern.


Hmm. Dry pattern. Yes. Or, as I think about my own malaise, a dry spell. The grass is prickly and no longer pleasant on bare feet. My conversations are above the constant whir of a fan circling thick air. Summer is not usually my most inspiring season.


“Still,” he always adds. “Dry means no severe weather. No rough storms.”


Interesting trade off, I consider. And, I wonder, what did I predict?


By predict, I am referring to my January ‘Who Determines the Weather?’ post. I dig back in my drafts and pull up the text. I scroll down to January 6. Sixth day means the sixth month, June. I read.


Today, I was warned about the weather, but it didn’t last for long. It came and went. It hindered some. I was warned about the weather, but I went running anyway. Cool. Sweet. Sweat. Sensation of success. Who determines the weather? Meteorologists. Farmers. True. But, I determine how it feels to me. The culmination of these feelings is my own microclimate. I consider that the climate, not the weather, matters more.


I linger on the final, intentional in this case, philosophical, not scientific, statement.


Let's start with science. I Google, “What causes dry spells?”


In between articles about relationship difficulty and dry eyes, I don’t find ‘dry spell’ exactly, rather details about drought. The article lists different types of drought, some more localized than others. It also identifies causes of drought, both natural and manmade. As with the majority of situations, the causes and effects are a combination of systems larger than ourselves and more localized/independent choices. I read the final lines of the blog text again.


The culmination of these feelings is my own microclimate. I consider that the climate, not the weather, matters more.


Something is missing. Not a power to determine, but to describe the weather in relation to me.


For example, I hate gray days, but my dad loves them. He thinks they are mysterious. My aunt likes or dislikes a day based on temperature, not the amount of sunshine in it.


How does the weather predicted for June relate to me? What is its impact?


A dry spell, at least metaphorically speaking for me, is entirely dependent on comparison to what I perceive I should be accomplishing. A colleague recently recommended several books by author Susan Cain. Her work entitled, “Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole”, intrigues me to build out this idea from where a type of melancholy is rooted. Could the impact of this drought fit in the categorization of ‘longing’? In the New York Times, Cain is interviewed.


Tell us a little about the importance of “longing,” how it’s been misunderstood in modern times and within the context of a culture driven by “the tyranny of optimism?”


S.C.: In our culture, you say the word “longing” and you might think “mired in longing” or “wallowing in longing,” but that’s not how it has been understood historically. In the “Odyssey,” Odysseus was seized by homesickness and that was what propelled him on his journey. That’s what carries you to the divine, to creativity.”


She continues, “It’s really interesting because there’s a long tradition that goes back centuries of talking about melancholy and its mysterious virtues — more than 2,000 years ago Aristotle was asking why it is that many of the great poets and philosophers and politicians have a melancholic personality. Melancholy and depression are two distinct states, but often no distinction is made.”


Dry spell, not dry pattern. Maybe I don’t think, maybe I hope, because a dry spell seems less permanent. Dry spell is only the needed space to appreciate rain. If I am in a dry pattern, I can be disappointed for disappointments sake, or embrace that the dry stretch inspires me to look for water.


The screen door slams, and I know my dad is back outside watering. He will save some, but eventually won’t be able to maintain every bit of green. Still, when something dries and then dies, the space is there, not only for something new, but something that fits the climate.




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