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September 13, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
As a kid growing up, I hated rain during the summer. It signaled my exile indoors and often canceled outdoor activities such as baseball and softball games. I was a spoiled suburban kid who didn’t really appreciate the rain’s vital importance.
However, my grandfather and uncles spent their lives on farms and worked in the fields of Iowa. Their whole existence revolved around rain — not too much, not too little, just enough. Farmers all over the Midwest suffered through one of the worst droughts in decades this year, and much has been made of their struggles. It’s a battle they continue to fight, the repercussions of which still aren’t clearly known.
But what about our wildlife and native flora? How have they fared through the parched and sweltering summer? We sent a writer out with wildlife biologists to check in on Missouri’s marshlands, prairies and ponds. The crunch of dead grass and brush covered in dust provided some stark imagery, but the view might be deceiving. The arid season was one of the worst, and we are still trying to reckon its result. However, it’s nothing that our local ecosystem hasn’t seen before. Although the summer drought has wreaked havoc on some plants and animals, on a biological level the temporary tragedy is how our natural environment rejuvenates itself.
My grandmother often remarked that, “It always rains just before it’s too late.” Despite its toll in the South, Hurricane Isaac brought desperately needed moisture to the Midwest that offered a little relief. Nevertheless, nature continues to evolve through its cycle of life with the hard lessons of dry summer.