Even if you don’t live in Texas like I do, you have probably heard on the news or read somewhere about our lack of much needed rain here. At last look, there was only one county in the whole state of Texas NOT under a burn ban because of such dry conditions. When I step outside on to the grass, I might at first mistake the crunching under my feet for leaves and think it’s Fall, but the heat lets me know I’m wrong very quickly. It’s not leaves that I’m hearing, but the sound of yellow, dry grass that has died from lack of nourishment. A huge majority of places around Texas have dead grass and some even dead trees that have fallen due to no rain. The lake levels have dropped quite a bit. In fact, earlier this month a lake within 30 minutes of where I lived got so low that another piece of the space shuttle Columbia was found.
Lake Travis in Austin,Texas is at less than 50% capacity due to the drought and on my trip back from Austin, I saw where many lakes and ponds had gone down dramatically since the last time I had driven through. The lack of rain was a huge topic during my weekend trip to Austin and back as well as the impact it has had.
There was another D word that was sort of intertwined on my weekend trip. It was a word that I remembered as having a bit of a stigma once in my life. The word is death. I remember back when I was about 9 and had a younger friend who lived down the street from me. One day we were talking and I don’t remember exactly how the word came up, but I mentioned death. The girl’s mom completely freaked out like I had just said a cuss word and told me, “We do NOT say that word in this house!” At that time, I didn’t understand what was the big deal. Death wasn’t a bad word, it happens to everyone. Now that I am older, I really think the mom must have experienced one or more horrible losses in her life and was just honestly afraid of the thought of Death. I haven’t seen her or the girl in almost 2 decades so I’m not sure if anything changed, but that memory of Death being considered in the same league as a cuss word sticks with me strongly to this day.
Drought causes death among plants and sometimes animals. I already knew this, but it seems like my weekend was full of that reminder. I had the misfortune of seeing both a dead skunk and raccoon on the highway first….well, I smelled the first one more than saw it, but nevertheless, that was the beginning. Those two were obviously roadkill and nothing NEW to roads in Texas or anywhere else. It was the third animal I saw that shocked and surprised me.
I was on the lookout for this type of animal and I never could have guessed my first sighting would be in this way. First I saw the shape laying on the side of the road in the grass, then as we got closer, I saw the brown and white…..a dead cow. It didn’t look as if it was hit by a car, but I suppose that was possible. Since there weren’t any other cows close by, I feel like it was more plausible that the cow had wandered off(which they ARE known to do) and had passed out due to the heat and/or drought. I probably will never know the real cause but it saddened me to see him or her lying there.
The next day brought the news of a funeral for a drug Deputy dog who had simply collapsed while on duty and the people thought he had just laid down for a bit. Knight, a 2 year old German Shepherd, dead of heat exhaustion. I cried a little as I heard the officers describing what a good dog he was and how much they loved him. That same day I heard about a goat that had died recently at the barn my niece goes to to work her animals. They had to feed their animals early in the morning and then late in the day due to this. Supposedly, feeding the goat too early in the extreme heat caused its death? Not sure how that works….but definitely all these dead animals were freaking me out.
Thank goodness that was the last dead animal case I heard that weekend. All that talk of drought and death definitely put a somber mood on the weekend……thankfully, I have a super crazy family that gave me a lot of moments to laugh about and bring me out of the doom and gloom mood. We definitely STILL need rain here in Texas, though. Please send any unwanted rain OUR way.
Be on the lookout for some happy, funny moments from my trip to Austin last weekend. My post on Saturday should be about this!