It may come as a shock to people living in northern Spain's Ireland-like Asturias region, but much of Spain has been suffering a nasty drought lately. Things have been especially parched here in Guadalajara—a province whose “How I spent my Summer Vacation” essay would need only two words: “On fire!”
Local officials in my hometown of Cabanillas del Campo have spent many a disturbed coffee-break pondering drought-related issues. The first indication of a looming crisis appeared last June. That’s when City Hall distributed an urgent message advising that municipal water supplies had dropped to a lowly 38% of capacity and pleading that citizens conserve water whenever possible. Suggestions included tightening drippy faucets, running dishwashers only when full and turning off the shower while lathering and shampooing.
I took this plea to heart, and then took it a step further by making the greatest sacrifice that a male of our species can make: I stopped watering my lawn.
This was a painful decision, yet an easy one. A beautiful garden, I reasoned, is clearly less important than assuring an ample supply of drinking water for the children of Cabanillas. Besides, an unwatered lawn is a lawn that won’t grow—and I’ll admit that the prospect of locking-away my lawn mower until Spring 2006 had a certain selfish appeal.
Well…my lawn quickly turned a deep shade of straw-yellow, and took on such a texture that only a well-trained Yogi would dare attempt to cross it with bare feet.
I couldn’t help noticing, however, that the squishy feelings of civic responsibility to which I’d fallen prey had not yet infected any of my neighbors. Indeed, a quick survey of the neighborhood established that mine was the *only* house sporting yellow grass. Everyone else’s lawn fell into one of two categories: (a) lush and green, or (b) buried under six inches of concrete—this latter category being a peculiarly Spanish phenomenon that I’ve not encountered elsewhere…except, perhaps, certain dangerous sections of The Bronx.
Still, I didn’t care. My yard looked like hell, but I wore it as a badge of honor.
Besides, I was quite enjoying the drought. I had, after all, spent thirty-two years living in lousy climates before moving to Spain in 1999 and as a result, eleven months of uninterrupted sunshine ranked pretty low on my “Personal Registry of Misery & Human Hardships.”
But alas, the dry-spell ended two weeks ago and Cabanillas received its first meaningful rainfall since November 2004. And when that first raindrop fell, something odd happened. I felt…excited. For the first time in my life, I actually felt *excited* about a rainy day. It was new! It was different! It was a change of pace! I could finally pull my red, flannel, lumberjack shirt from the closet. I could finally go jogging without the threat of acute sunstroke. And best of all…the air no longer smelled like dry-roasted dog poo.
Yes my friends…I was excited!
And then, twenty minutes later, the excitement passed. The rains, however, did not. They’ve continued (on and off) for more than a week, and my grass is already showing disturbing signs that my lawn mower’s retirement will be short-lived.
Perhaps I prayed too hard for rain. The next time I have an urge to dress like a lumberjack in the midst of a drought, I’ll just hop in my car and drive to Asturias.