Hard Earth

I walk over, following Russ' curious gaze to the ground. When someone watches something this intently, it’s hard not to join in. Now I’m looking down, too. Watching water trickle over brittle earth. Iced tea, to be accurate. The overflow of a church picnic.

Brown on brown, the liquid spreads. Like a virus across continents in some summer blockbuster virus-visualization. We wonder aloud at how far this small amount of liquid is spreading. We place bets as to where it will stop. In the end we leave, responsibilities calling us elsewhere. The drink is still spilling out.

This is not barren pavement. This is Hawrelak Park. This is grass in search of green. This is thirsty ground. Then why does it refuse to drink?

Russ tells me about a summer he spent watering hanging flower baskets. It was a a dry summer. Like this one. He tells me that when the baskets were this dry, the water would run right through, like a sieve. They wouldn’t soak it in. They were too dry to receive. With those baskets, you needed to pre-water. Just a bit. Then water again soon after. Then they would lap it up like an August dog.

Maybe it’s the sun, coaxing me out of my sweatshirt after a cold morning. Maybe it’s the fact that this is the last church picnic I’ll have with these friends. I’m getting wistful. Making metaphors.

Too dry to even receive water when it is offered. Too hard. Needing to be handled gently at first. Softened slowly. With grace and care. Only then, ready to receive the riches of a downpour.

Later I’m leaving and Russ calls out to me. He’s exited as a kid at recess. He just poured a 2-litre bottle of water on the same spot.

It was soaked up instantly.

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