Weather as Social Commentary

In the Northeast, the sky has forgotten how to cry (aka, rain). This year, our rainfall totals are 9 inches below normal. We’re in the midst of a significant drought in the region.

People like it to be sunny each and every day. However, farmers need rain to water their crops. Municipal water supplies that rely on rain and groundwater (basically, all of them) need rain to recharge aquifers. I’m no geologist, but being as historically dry as it is can’t be good for longterm water needs.

The weather puppets—those Tee Vee people who only want to tell you that it’s going to be sunny, each and every day—have started to hint at some “soaking” rain coming next weekend….maybe.

I shouldn’t blame the weatherman (or weatherwoman) for only wanting to say “sunny,” rather than “rain.” I’m sure they’re perfectly nice people. They’re simply one more subset of America that believes in the myth of unending progress. Why tell people something unpleasant and end up being unpopular. Just like in politics—where each side thinks their pathologically-flawed candidate is the “hope” for our future—it’s better to sugarcoat it and tell people what they want to hear. Or make it about an issue that’s not really what ails us in the moment.

There was a pre-technological time when people understood the duality of life and the need for rain along with the sun. Technological man—with a multiplicity of smartphone apps–believes that he’s transcended such trivial things. He’s now living his life framed by a screen.

When we built our house back in 1989, many builders and contractors in these parts still installed shallow water wells. These are also known as dug wells. I can drive (or bike) and within a 10-mile radius, pass hundreds of these wells in Durham and Pownal.

Dug wells are ubiquitous in Maine.

Dug wells are ubiquitous in Maine.

Our dug well has consistently offered up an ample supply of water, save for a few years—usually in August and September—we had to curtail using the washing machine and other activities that used more than a few gallons at a time. This was due to the water level dropping down close to and then going below the footer valve, which pulls the water from the bottom of our 15-foot well, up to the well pump in our basement.

For a week now, we’ve been dangerously close to falling below the functional level. This has necessitated toting water in 7-gallon camping containers. I even climbed down into the well last Tuesday and managed to straighten the semi-rigid hard rubber tube so that it’s a few inches deeper in the well. As a result, I’m now able to pump enough water into the house to flush our toilets once or twice a day.

In my well, looking towards the sky.

In my well, looking towards the sky.

We are on a list to have a well driller come out and drill a well. I called him last week when we ran out of water and he said it would probably be a week longer. The demand for new wells has outstripped his two-man operation, in an industry that’s not seeing an influx of new drilling businesses.

For now, we’re making do. Actually, things haven’t been that bad at all. I swim at the YMCA twice a week. Since I can’t shower at home, I’ve been going an additional day. I’m clean, and I’m also getting additional fitness benefits. We’ve also developed a routine for doing our dishes by hand. My sister (and parents) have allowed us to stop by and fill our jugs when passing by.

All of this has made us appreciative of having water. I think Mary and I are learning that we’re more adaptable and resilient than we thought we were. Resilience is something we all should be cultivating.

One thought on “Weather as Social Commentary

  1. “There was a pre-technological time when people understood the duality of life and the need for rain along with the sun. Technological man—with a multiplicity of smartphone apps–believes that he’s transcended such trivial things. He’s now living his life framed by a screen.”

    Perfect…And I might add that the view from the screen is very small, since techno-analytics only gives you more of what you “like.” Tunnel vision, or maybe “in the well” vision.

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