Sunday, July 18, 2010

On Wetness in Dry Places

The lakes here, about which I have written quite a few times (putting Ruidera into the search box at the top left will doubtless turn them up), are probably the most beautiful, and certainly the wettest and greenest thing, in many, many miles. They rise and fall as water will, but they don’t respond directly to the local rainfall, their level is determined by the height of the water table, which in turn depends on the rainfall in the mountains a long way to the north-east over the previous few years. Last year they were very high, because of a particularly wet winter two years before, and now, after a late winter/early spring whose wetness is supposed to be the greatest in living memory (that famously reliable and understated thing) they have risen higher than anyone has ever seen them (see previous note).

The reason the rain has acted so quickly to top them up is that the water table was already so high that there was nowhere else for the water to go. This can be seen most dramatically in the local rivers. One flows past the southern edge of the village, the other flows west a bit further south, and they come together at the beginning of the lakes, which they appear to feed, but in fact they only contribute a tiny fraction of what they hold. Flow is not really the word, and neither is river, as these ‘rivers’ are never normally more than stagnant ditches, and often long stretches of them are completely dry, but now they are definitely streams, which flow, gurgle and babble and have green stuff living in them, and possibly fish, though I have yet to verify this.

The wells, which are important to farmers, as there is very little chance to water the land and many houses are too isolated to have mains water, often dry up, too, but now they are flowing freely, saving a lot of money and time. And an artificial pond, constructed to capture water to allow irrigation of a small farm a few miles away which was once run by my brother-in-law, and which has been dry for years, has water and bird-life once again.

All of which makes the place even more pleasant for spending the summer in. And I don’t watch the television and can’t read the papers, so if there is anything going on in the world that I should get excited about, I shall never know. The overall effect of these things, plus the walking and biking around the area which I do daily, is to produce a deep calm, a profound sense of relaxation.

As I rediscover every summer, the world is quite capable of getting along by itself without my obsessively dissecting and ranting about every little detail. At least, it has so far. Is there anything I should know?

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