27 May 2011

The drought deepens

Still no rain. I went out with Callie yesterday afternoon and I was stuck by how dry and crunchy the grass is all around. Under trees, where it's shaded, are some patches of green. But in unshaded spots everything, including weeds, is all burned and brown.

Our département, the Loir-et-Cher, is now under mild water restrictions. Départements all around us have put on tight water-usage policies. Walt and I wonder if the fact that three major rivers — the Cher, the Loire, and the Loir — flow through the Loir-et-Cher has anything to do with that difference.

Here's the back of our house and part of the yard,
to show how brown the grass is now.

However that might be, it's clear that the situation is getting worse. More than half the départements in France have now been declared drought-stricken. This morning, skies are gray but we don't expect any precipitation. Yesterday a front went through, but all we got was gusty winds, puffy clouds, and a significant drop in temperature.

The roses don't seem to mind dry weather.

I'm watching Tanya Young give the weather report on Télématin right now. She says our skies will clear this afternoon. Temperatures are normal for the season: a low of 12ºC and a high today of about 19ºC. That's cooler than it has been recently — low 55ºF, high 66ºF — but no wetter.

Another shot of the linden tree in bloom

As usual — we have been in this situation before — we are supposed to be observing water-usage restrictions, but I'm not sure exactly what they are. Walt says he heard something about watering your garden only at night. I assume that means the vegetable garden, not the lawn. We will water our new plantings, but the grass will turn browner and browner unless it rains soon. We won't waste water on it.

Kalanchoe plants also thrive in arid situations.
These are in a pot outside.

We collect rainwater and have used it for watering plants over the past month or so. But there's been so little rain that the collected water is now all used up, and it's not being replenished. I won't wash the car, but when there's no rain and mud, it doesn't really need to be washed anyway. Even Callie doesn't need a rinsing-off after our walks these days, because everything is so dry that she doesn't get dirty.

I guess water restrictions apply especially to large-scale consumers, and that means farmers and factories. Farmers can't irrigate their crops. In the immediate area around us, the only crop is grapes, and in France irrigating grapevines is prohibited anyway. The wine varies in quality and quantity from year depending on weather conditions — moisture and sunshine. Irrigating the vineyards would alter the natural process.

A close-up of Monet's 1878 painting La Rue Montorgueil,
just because I like it and used to live there

Grapevines have very deep roots, and the vineyard is green. I'm sure the growers would be happy to have a little more moisture right now, but not too much. Down in the river valley, however, between Mareuil and Pouillé in particular, there are big fields planted in feed corn. Corn needs a lot of water, but it's not getting it this year. Many crops all around the country are suffering and already being declared a loss.


  1. Only being able to water your garden at night is a level 2 restriction and there is a distinction made between potagers and ornamental gardens. Potagers can be watered whenever you like until level 3 restrictions come in, then you can only water between 8 at night and 8 in the morning. I'll look up the site with the details and forward.

  2. Your roses and kalanchoe are lovely. Hope you get rain soon.

    Aren't the dry years supposed to be good for wines?

  3. Well, it's raining in Provence this morning, but probably not enough to make a difference.

  4. Yes, Diogenes, dry is better than damp for the grapes and the wine.

    Susan, thanks, I've found government documents too. We're pretty familiar with water restrictions, which are mostly common sense once you're aware of them, after living for nearly 20 years in California.

    Meredith, we just had the lightest misty shower too, but it was far too little to help at all.

  5. I am sorry to hear this news about your continuing dryness...Meanwhile we have far too much water and I spent time two evenings this week in the basement because of tornado watches......

  6. Your photos today and yesterday are especially lovely, and I really enjoyed seeing yesterday's with the laundry and the huge Linden tree. I don't remember really ever seeing your yard from that perspective before. Honestly, it looks like something out of an 1890s painting :))

    I'm heading to New Orleans this weekend for the wedding of a former student. I've never been. It's supposed to be in the high 80s, and I'm sure it will be mugggggggggy. I hope your weather wettens up a bit.

    Finals are in full force today... only four more school days for me and then I can spend all of my time finishing the new house and moving there! And getting enough time to read the blog everyday :))


  7. It's a good thing you told us the title of that painting because I never would have figured it to be a street.

  8. Starman, have you walked through the rue Montorgueil? It's one of the oldest market streets in Paris, and now it's been all spruced up.

    Judy, hope you're having a good time in NO. Muggy, yes, I can imagine. I'm sure you will however enjoy your grandes vacances.


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