Living in northeast Ohio I never thought the day would come that I would complain about having too much sunshine, but on behalf of my lawn, that day has come.
Who would have guessed that once June arrived we’d be stuck in a cycle of 90 degree days and sunny skies for what must be close to 5 straight weeks. That may be a slight exaggeration as I remember a day or two in the 80s but June is usually my favorite month with 70 degree daytime temps and cool evenings. It doesn’t get any better than that.
This year we skipped a month or two and jumped from Spring into the dog days of August. My mountain biking has benefitted as the trails have been dry as a bone but my gardens and lawn have suffered greatly. I have a new appreciation for cactii and sagebrush, as they are about the only plants that thrive under these conditions.
There’s a fine line between a lawn that has gone dormant and one that is dead, and I’m seriously stressed that mine has passed the point of no return. I do my best to conserve water but until plants, trees and grass are reasonably well established, they need the extra drink to keep the grim reaper and his sickle in my neighbors yard rather than mine.
I suppose I should be grateful that the drought has helped keep my travel costs down since whenever I feel the urge to enjoy a sandy beach all I have to do is go out in my backyard and roll around on what used to be grass but is now an acre of desert sand. And when I hear the weekly testing of the community storm advisory alaram, images of the dust bowl and sand storms spring to mind.
I haven’t had a chance to catch up with Steve Hardesty, the City’s Water Plant Manager, to ask him how his water reserves are holding up without getting the aquifer recharge that we would normally get in June. I probably don’t want to know which is why I keep finding reasons not to ask.
I suspect our Finance Director is happy as water usage is likely up, which means water sales figures should be up, but at what price? It’s hard to call yourself a proud green community when the prevailing color of plants and lawns is burnt sienna.
Another consequence of all this dry weather is the canceling the 4th of July fireworks show this year due to the extreme fire hazard risk. The fireworks show in Kent is the annual exclamation mark that signals the end of the Kent Heritage Fest and I know that its going to be missed.
Due to the unusually dry conditions, Kent Fire Chief Williams has decided that the public risk from fire is too great to allow the launching of fireworks following this year’s Heritage Festival.
Chief Williams recognizes that this is going to be a disappointment to the many people that enjoy the downtown fireworks show but he has to look out for public safety first and he is concerned with his ability to protect the public under such ideal conditions for uncontrolled fires to break out.
The downtown location for launching fireworks is great way to end the downtown festival but it definitely presents challenges for fire safety. Chief Williams explained that the State Fire Marshall was recommending doubling the clear zones for falling fireworks debris this year and that would require closing Franklin Street and cordoning off Franklin properties to prevent any spectators from entering that area — which historically has been one of the most prominent viewing areas and is typically packed full of people. Holding the public out of that area is likely to present some real logistical challenges.
In addition, with the Kramer Fields bridge still out of service, Chief Williams does not have the ability to bring fire apparatus into the ballfields so if a spark were to set off a fire in the ballfield area he would have a very limited ability to safely suppress the fire.
Chief Willams noted that if we get significant rain later this week he might be able to rescind the fireworks cancellation.
My lawn and I are anxiously hoping for some rain.