July 22, 2012

Drought



The Alley is experiencing one of the driest summer since 1988. Pretty well the entire Midwest is in a drought ever since the spring. Any rain that has fallen is quickly absorbed by the parched ground. Lawns throughout the area are burnt to a crisp. Many of the farmers are fearful that this year’s corn and soybeans will be lost. The only times it rained were the periodic storms off the lake. They were brief intense downpours, but even they couldn’t quench the thrist of the earth. The rivers went up slightly as the water got muddy and the water quickly receded and the rivers went back to barely flowing. Many of the pools have turned into frog water as flow had halted or is barely noticeable. In many sections, where steelheaders once stood they would looking out at 20 to 30 feet out. A lot of my work takes me out east especially the eastern suburbs of Cleveland. Drives along the Chagrin River road and the river barely flows over the shale bedrock. Several riffles have all but dried up. The banks are rock hard and along the river the cracks in the clay soil remind me of a desert landscape where rain forgot to fall. 



Later this evening, I ran through the Rocky River metro park. The day before it was 98F and with the heat index it felt like 106F and the humidity was suffocating. There was no way I was going to run in that heat and I seek the refuge of the AC, read a book and had a couple of ice cold Avery’s white rascal wheat ale. Today, it was a more reasonable with temps in the upper 80s and nice breeze off the lake. I ran along the river and I couldn’t help notice how low it was. The river had shrunk in half. Rocks that should have been under water were bleached by the sun and heat. In some section the river moved quicker because more the water was funneled through the narrows. Holes that during the season held steelhead were revealed and being the savvy steelheader I'm always looking to gain an upper hand and I took mental notes. What was absent were fish as I didn’t see any life at all. I watched a couple of teenagers with a net dredging the bottom. What they were looking for I wasn’t sure but probably crayfish as they were working the faster water. 




I continued to run under the canopy and the shade was a welcomed relief. The cicadas buzzed in the trees and the odd bird sang. In this section of the park there are several massive trees. Giants from a time when this section of Ohio was only populated by native people. There is a red and white oak and a cottonwood that dwarf the other surrounding trees. These trees are probably hundreds of year old and are testament that they withstood the many years of hard winters, hot dry summers and wind storms. 

I finally made it up the trial that connects Lorain and Story roads. I huffed and puffed and felt my legs burn as I struggled to make it to the top of the steep hill. I was 3 miles from the Jeep and I was soaked in sweat. How fitting that a ice cream stand was right across the road. I was parched and nothing would feel more refreshing than handmade ice cream. Too bad I didn't carry some loose cash as I felt somewhat disappointed that I couldn’t sink my teeth into chocolate ice cream. I turned and started running down the hill back into the park. On the way, there was a large buck sporting a beautiful rack in velvet. He briefly looked up at me and continued to feed along the trail, wondering why are these humans always on the run. By the time steelhead are running, his reddish coat will be tawny and the velvet gone. He will also be more bulky and imposing after a summer of feeding on the lush vegetation. 

I made to the Jeep and my running app on the phone spat out the results. The sexy computerized female voice informed me that I ran 6 miles in little over an hour. Then I got a congratulatory comment from none other Tim Tebow telling me I broke another record. Drenched in sweat, I had both windows down and drove home along the parkway. I could see some people fishing fishing at the fords and any of the deeper pools. With the lower conditions, I’m pretty sure that’s where the fish are. 




As for me, I haven’t really wetted a line much over the past few weeks. The heat and sun have left me burnt and tired. Sunday is the day to go fishing and with the dry and hot conditions, I generally have to talk myself into why I should go out. The times I’ve gone out the fishing has at best average. A high bright sky and searing sun generally keeps the bite inconsistent. The fish are scattered and the heat makes walking hole to hole a monumental task. I’ll continue to grind it out all summer working as we’re making our way to the dog days of summer. 

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