Where was Gnome?

A bedraggled gnomeCrazy weather lately!

After the last storm left so many trees damaged, I thought our time of monsoon was spent—but, evidently not.

Tuesday afternoon I looked up into the sky and saw a small (but very black) cloud floating among a few other fluffy white ones. It looked a bit out of place but didn’t seem noteworthy.

I went inside my home office to work on presentations for my upcoming events. I’m a focused sort of person and, therefore, ignored the rain when it began to fall. My task involved a word processor on the hard drive, so I also didn’t notice when the wireless connection went down along with the internet and telephone.

Once, a low rumble of thunder caught my ear, but it was far away.

There was just one little cloud in the sky. No wind, little thunder. How bad could it be?

I kept working . . . and working.

What I didn’t know was that the rain was coming down in a quiet torrent.

Looking back now, it reminds me of a story my friend, Lora, once shared with me. She had gone into a pizza parlor, placed an order, and waited for her food to be prepared. She passed the time by playing a pin-ball-type game that sat in the restaurant. Like me, Lora was focused. Once or twice a fellow tapped on her arm. “Go away, buddy,” she told the person. “Not your turn.” Not until the blunt end of a gun knocked her in the head did Lora realize the store was being robbed!

I’m a lot like Lora—focused.

By the time my husband, Jimmy, came home from work that evening, the rain had subsided. I opened the front door to let him in. He stood on the outer threshold, shoes stuck in several inches of mud, which covered the front porch.

“Good grief!” he said. “The water almost got inside the house.”

What else had I ignored?

The next morning, the goats, chickens, and turkeys whined for their meal as soon as the sun came up. It was their normal feeding time, and they became anxious. As I cared for the animals, I kept an eye out for any damage to the property. The last storm uprooted one tree and broke major branches in a dozen others.

Heaven knows, we’re still chipping the wood from that incident!

The more recent rain, however, was quiet, without ripping winds and lightening. All of the trees appeared fine . . . but other damage was evident everywhere.

Gravel drivewayOur gravel drive, for example, hid beneath deep sticky mud.

Did the stones wash away, or did the mud just cover everything?

Two large boulders blocked the pathway behind my truck. I picked one up and grunted. One at a time I moved the heavy rocks off the drive. It was difficult to believe the force of water had moved these stones.

Tuesday was garbage-collection day, so the filled container was waiting at the side of the street when the rain came. The next morning, I found the bulky item half-way down the road lying on its side in a rain-filled gutter. Mud caked my tennis shoes as I drug my property out of the ditch and struggled to empty the dirty water from within. There was no sign of trash. Either the garbage truck picked it up or the junk was all in the Gila River by now. I hoped for the former.

I stored the trash container in its usual place. Then I went in the back yard to check on a small orchard positioned on high ground between two normally dry creek beds. In Tuesday’s torrent, the channels merged into one torrential river. Several inches of mulch (wood chips) washed away, leaving strange, wavy deposits of mud. The current scoured trenches and partially uprooted three chili peppers in a circular planting bed. I bent over to pat soggy earth protectively over the exposed roots of one when I realized something was missing.

Where was Gnome?

My concrete garden gnome normally rested beneath the leaning mesquite tree in the corner of my garden near the rear of the property. However, a storm several weeks ago dropped a number of branches on the little guy. I thought he needed some clear sky and sunshine, so I brought him over to this circular area by the peppers.

Where was Gnome, now?

I frantically searched the property, following the two creeks downstream. The little fellow was constructed of two separate parts—a pair of shoes sticking up in the air and his main body. I found his feet stranded on an elevated section of land near a bush. I cradled my first prize carefully while searching for the rest of my friend. I followed each creek bed to where it dipped beneath the cyclone fence and disappeared. My eyes focused beyond the wire perimeter, following the jagged muddy line as it traveled toward the Gila River.

Realizing the entire property must have been submerged, not only the creeks, I followed the western fence line all of the way down toward the turkey run.

At last, I found my garden buddy! He was covered in dirty mulch, wedged halfway under the fence, face pointed downwards into the wet muck.

Poor Gnome!

I gathered him up and carefully placed him back beneath the leaning mesquite in the corner of my garden, where he has rested for twenty-some-odd years. Gnome wasn’t likely to go visiting the rest of the property again soon.

Broccoli seedlingsMy attention then turned to my newly planted fall garden. Several days ago, I seeded two thirty-feet-long rows with broccoli, turnips, lettuce, Tohono O’odham onions, and more . . . and then there were 100 Solo cups with onions and other flowers and veggies.

Onion sproutsMy muddy feet paced up and down between each row, still covered with wood chips—delighted to see tiny first leaves of newly germinated seeds still emerging from the planting beds. All of the little cups contained healthy sprouts as well. The garden was, in fact, pristine—nothing disturbed.

“How can the rain cause so much damage in one place and so little in another?” I asked Gnome.

But my friend wasn’t ready to talk to me yet.

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