Fighting the Dust Bowl Specter

Rush Hour Main Street, Westcliffe, CO

Rush Hour
Main Street, Westcliffe, CO

Despite the recent snow, the valley floor hints at green and my heart leaps up.  Spring cannot come soon enough. This has been the longest winter ever, and my mind wanders. The road forks. I take a left turn and find myself in fantasy land. Sometimes I’m on a beach. Other times I’m snorkeling in turquoise waters.

2014 03 05 winter 002I can do cold if we have snow, but I cannot do cold on its own. I wait for snow. It is not too late. Historically we have seen our best snows in March and early April. My fingers are crossed.

To the good, snowpack is more than 125% in the Arkansas River headwaters – double last year’s total and 90% of the 20-year average. Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a good chance for an El Nino forming over the Pacific Ocean in late summer: this will lead to increased rainfall for the Southwest.

The bad news, however, is that given the three-year-drought, it will take more than one good year to restore the water table.

wyutcoprecipitation022014percentofnormalI find it depressing that Colorado Senate Bill 17 was defeated on Friday, February 21. In short, the bill would require developers to limit the lawn area of their lots to 15% if they were to rely on buying agricultural water rights. Given the ongoing drought and a booming population that will call for more domestic water, it only makes sense to limit the size of our lawns.

If beavers can build consensus, why can't our legislators?

If beavers can build consensus, why can’t our legislators?

But… you guessed it… our legislators kicked the can down the road. They are going to re-visit the bill… sometime… in the future… when it is too late?  IS NO ONE BRAVE ENOUGH TO TAKE A STAND AND DO THE RIGHT THING?

Last year, our local paper, The Wet Mountain Tribune, encouraged residents to conserve water by not watering their lawns. The exception was newly planted trees. Most people followed the recommendations. But not all.

For those who absolutely need a green lawn, I just stumbled upon a recipe for lawn dye. The recipe is as follows: Mix one pound of lawn fertilizer with four pounds of Epsom salt. To this mix slowly dribble in 1/4 cup of green food color. Five pounds of lawn dye will cover 1,000 square feet. Using a lawn and garden, ten-galleon sprayer and employing a sweeping motion, apply the spray when the grass is dry. Repeat every four to six weeks as your green grass fades to brown.

This sounds like a lot of work to me. Better we have smaller lawns and lean towards xeriscaping.

Postscript: A day after posting this blog, I made an effort to catch up on my reading. Doing so I came across an excellent article in The Economist, February 22, 2014, titled “The Drying of the West.” You may want to read it at

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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2 Responses to Fighting the Dust Bowl Specter

  1. Dianne Shanks says:

    We’ll more snow!!! Just for you. I really appreciate your message about water usage. Just burns me,and it has forever that we (states of the west) and back in the Midwest too, that states and communities spend money on campaigns to conserve water, set water days and then release them. Then do it over and over again.

    I miss you.. I have a story to tell you about my amaryllis, which Patricia gave me. Get together soon?

    Love, Dianne

    Sent from my iPad


    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Dianne, Mark your calendar now… save the first weekend of March 2015. Missed the skijoring competition in Leadville last weekend. Damn! Next year, for sure. Plan on it. As for this year, I just had to postscript my blog because in catching up on my reading, I read a really good drought article, “The Drying of the West,” in The Economist: Yes, let’s get together. I have been sort of practicing the piano – should we trade piano books for a week – copying what we want out of one another’s books? Thanks for the snow. I am hoping for ten inches, but I’ll settle for what comes our way.

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