A Drought Jingle

As a people we’re usually good at putting a good spin on things.  Whether it’s the government convincing us that something unnecessary is a fine idea (DDT anyone?) or we’re trying to cover up for that family member who did something embarrassing. A tornado? Global devastation? We can make it fun!  A good PR firm knows if you can say the right thing in the right way to the right suggestible audience, you’ve potentially sold your product.  It’s similar to when you lower your voice to whisper something terrible like, “you know Frank just has the one testicle,” but instead of trying to hide it you offer up, “did you know Frank is at the next stage of evolution!  I think we’re going to be seeing more of those one ballers in the near future.  Lucky bastard!” If other people are excited about it, then we are, too!  It’s the happy train that keeps chugging forward.

We need positive spin to help us stomach the harder things in life whether we’re talking war, poverty, famine or any other horseman that joins the depressing parade that is sometimes life.  Bonus points when it’s something potentially tragic and we’re able to spin it into blaming the victim, but I’m going off-road a bit.

Here’s what I want.  I want a PR firm to take up the drought that’s devastating our state.  From here on instead  of seeing a glowing blood red depiction of our state, I want new fun colors (red and it’s little friends yellow and orange are forbidden), maybe rainbows built on blues or cheery little depictions of woodland creatures frolicking across the state with some catchy hip slogan that would work as a bumper sticker.  And a mother fucking jingle.  That’s right, I want to turn on the TV and I want  to see a dancing little cartoon singing about how awesome this is and showing the evils of water.  I want the puddles to look like vicious little wet demons hellbent on ruining everyone’s life.  Everything that relies on water (that are not human) will be villainized.  We need the ad company who worked on the roaches for the Raid commercials or maybe those guys that came-up with the toe nail fungus demon to step-up. I want them to pitch something that makes the drought seem fun and lighthearted while making the viewers want to boo and hiss at anything  with water – whether it’s rain, a meandering river or kids playing in a sprinkler.  If the American Indian with the  single tear cries  about pollution, I want viewers to sit up and see him as wasting a resource.  Maybe the pitchmen could even convince people that water is bad for you.  Sure, this might work against all the recommendations we’ve ever received from doctors and nutritionists, but if it lifts us up when the ground cracks, how can that be all that bad?

It might even have the benefit of finally selling people on the wacky ideas like water conservation or even xeriscaping.

Ultimately, I don’t care about the benefits.  I just want to feel happy when I see on the news “nine more years of drought predicted” because I have a song in my heart that makes it all ok.

Clouds make us sad
They can really turn things bad
When they take our sun away



I’m mad at the weather, which is a completely ridiculous thing to be mad at since the weather likely doesn’t care.  What’s got me riled up? Well, you may have heard that we here in Texas (and apparently some other states who don’t get to be Texas) are in the middle of an extreme drought.  We’ve apparently been in a drought for the last three years, but thanks to some lovely meteorological phrase called a “heat dome” it’s gotten worse.  We have low cloud cover, the angle of the summer sun, a large amount of humidity in the air and soil reflecting the heat back to thank for this misery;  Thank you.  Cheers for that.

The impact to the state is disastrous.  Where I’d normally cheer the demise of mosquitoes, who are nowhere to be seen, we need them.  (May I never have to say that again.)  Mosquitoes feed things that feed herbivores that feed omnivores that feed things I actually like that are doe eyed and fuzzy, who in turn provide lovely snacks for carnivores.  (I’m sure you don’t really need me write in-depth about the actual science involved when it comes delicate ecosystems, do you?)  Basically, bugs are dying, and because of that animals that eat bugs are dying and because of that so are the animals that eat other animals.  Water is in short supply. The cattle industry, what Texas is known for, will not recover for decades.  Ranchers, no longer able to afford food and water, are forced to sell off their herds. Water gives us hay and other feed as I’ve mentioned, we don’t have any of that as lakes fall to record lows and stock ponds, streams and creeks dry up. The drought will actually permanently ruin a lot of small family ranches and farms across the affected states.  I’m mad.

You may have recently seen in the news that a wildfire broke out near Austin.  There have actually been hundreds of fires across the state destroying thousands and thousands of acres.  As of yesterday, the one that broke out nearly two weeks ago is still not completely contained; it’s really close. Maybe you’ve heard that one of the great things about Austin is that it’s “the biggest small town”.  With close to a million inhabitants, you’re still hard-pressed to go anywhere where you won’t bump into someone you know.  What that means in terms of the fire?  You can’t escape knowing several people who lost their homes.  You tend to know people who were friends with one of the two people who were killed in the fire.

The news broadcasts informed us that the people who died weren’t “public safety personnel”.  I guess they were only people whose family and friends cared about them. Big deal.  The news seemed to say we could stop caring about those who died since they were only two ordinary people.  No one special. I should have reminded my friend who attended the funeral to buck-up, as she talked about how devastated the family was – how the guy’s fiancé sat nearly comatose staring into space at the wake. She had waited for her fiancé down the road expecting him to return to her at any moment with two of their dogs.  At least he wasn’t “safety personnel”.  He was just a guy who was desperately trying to get his terrified dogs out from under the house so he could get out of the area  and then was quickly overwhelmed by the fast-moving fire.  The woman lost her fiancé, her house, her dogs and her job (the place she worked burned down) on that day, but she should be comforted knowing that at least her fiancé  wasn’t “public safety personnel”.  Whew.  The way the news shared that information was a slap in the face to those families.  It hurt them as much as the loss of their brother, their son, and their fiancé. I’m enraged.

Early this week I awoke to the sound of distant thunder and I was instantly angry as it taunted me with its false promises.  A bit of Shakespeare floated through my head – a thunderstorm off in the distance “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. I lay awake growing madder and madder thinking about all the times dark clouds rolled near our house over the summer only to quickly dissipate and blow away.  I knew this one would, too. What is the point in hope? We now water our lawns not to keep them lush and green, but to keep the trees alive as the earth cracks away from them.  Last week, our front yard was completely covered in leaves, like it was suddenly winter.  Our trees’ way of letting us know they’re struggling, like every plant and animal around it.  I’m angry.

My iPhone has a weather app and there I see a cloud with lightning coming out of it.  There were several of those decorating my iPhone last week yet no rain came.  Each displayed storm cloud was an unfulfilled promise. The weather man merrily chirps, “less than a 20% chance of rain this week” like Christmas has come early.  My app and those men make me want to scream.  I don’t want to hear about rain chances unless it’s falling directly on my head. I’m tired of getting excited about unlikely prospects.  I’m tired of people presenting these non-existent weather chances like I should stand up and applaud, because it’s not going to rain.  It’s never going to rain. I’m livid.

I broke someone at work because of this attitude.  As he stood at the windows and noted with glee several weeks ago, “a front is rolling in – look at those clouds!”  I shrugged and turned my back grumbling, “it’s not going to rain”.  The man protested, attempting to coax me out of my mood with his enthusiasm over nothing and I continued, “it’s just a dark cloud – it will go away.”  Finally defeated by my weathered despair, he dropped his shoulders, lowered his head and slunk off turning back to give me the stink eye, “Beth, there’s nothing wrong with a little hope.”   Yes when it’s a false hope.  It’s a pointless hope.  I’m bitter.

Global warming is a myth? I don’t understand why this is even a question.  Why are we divided on this based on our political affiliations?  This is science not the crazed rantings of an insane researcher who spent too much time with rats and mazes proclaiming, “The sky will poop ponies in 2012!”  Man has an actual impact on our environment.  We can agree that if we spill poison in a pond, animals will die.  Why is it a leap then that if we belch poison into the atmosphere the ozone dies?  I get that we don’t want to give up our cars and our factories, but then let’s say that.  Let’s say “we know it has an impact that we choose to ignore and it doesn’t matter how many polar bear cubs drown in the arctic, we don’t care.  The long-term effect on our planet? We don’t care.  It’s not NOW.  Burn the rain forests, melt the polar ice caps. but don’t expect me to give up on fossil fuels.”  That’s at least honest.  What’s not honest is a belief that we have no impact on our environments.  I’m disgusted.

Until the sky opens up, I will remain angry.  But, on that day I will stand outside with my face upturned letting the rain run down my skin.  As it soaks my hair and clothes I pray it dilutes some of this unbridled rage I feel at the weather, which is a ridiculous thing to be mad at, but here I am, mad.