THE WORST DROUGHT in the history of East Texas appears to be over. Last summer we baked in record heat as rain came to a standstill. Stock tanks dried up. Area farmers and ranchers had to unload stock they had little hope of keeping watered and fed.
Record setting forest fires started and raged for days, as mainly volunteer fire fighters fought them with limited equipment and resources. Even as the drought made fires more likely, funding for rural fire stations was cut at the State level.
Last fall we heard that the drought might not be over. We heard that another year of drought was feared by some weather observers. Then it started to rain.
The past several months, we have had substantial rain. Stock tanks, creeks, ponds, rivers and lakes have begun filling up. Some lakes remain lower than usual but are rising.
The most gratifying effect, however, has been the impact on the countryside. Last summer it looked like autumn in August. Trees and vegetation along the side of the roads were burned up, orange and lifeless seven months ago. Evergreens stood burnt orange, completely lifeless. Dust covered vegetation by the roadside.
The rain has washed away all that dust. It has filled the stock tanks that dot the region. Lush, green grass grows anywhere there is a patch of fertile ground. Large tracts dedicated to feeding grazing animals are thick with vegetation, and animals in such pastures graze the way God intended them.
Birds are everywhere, as we are on the doorstep of springtime. The animals get it. They know that spring is here early this year, and they are getting in on it at the ground level.
Trees have budded and their pollen covers any flat surface in range with their greenish yellow powder. Everything looks healthy and expectant of the new spring and summer.
The past few months are a reminder of the massive curative powers the earth has when it recovers from maladies harmful to humans. The drought dominated our lives last summer. It reminded us of what we can control and what we have no control over.
The problems of the drought are rapidly in the rear view mirror, as the rain has given life to our ponds, lakes and estuaries. It has revitalized our vegetation and made our lakes accessible again.
Most of the damage done last summer during the drought is a loss that will never be fully recovered. Those who suffered lost property or land will not see it again. Those whose stock animals had to be sold at a loss will not recover that. But as a region, we will recover from the drought, just as nature leads the way with life giving water, vegetation and animals.
© 2012, Jim “Pappy” Moore, All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. firstname.lastname@example.org