It’s Monsoon Season in Deep East Texas
By John Castro
-June 4, 2021
I was recently at my home-office, writing an article for a Spanish periodical concerning how Franco would be received by the populace in today’s world, when I received a phone call from an old journalist colleague who is on long-term assignment in what used to be Biafra— Owerri, Nigeria to be exact. He said he needed the information of a contact we had both made years earlier and that he was also sending me pictures of the local architecture. He then noted that the local monsoon season had begun and he likely wouldn’t see dry land again at least until December and maybe not even then.
After fumbling through my old leather Rolodex, I gave him an address in the nearby city of Enugu but also noted that the man he is looking for is probably long dead. But I told him he is in good company, that we too are in monsoon season. While we were speaking, I again heard that incessant dripping that had been plaguing me for the previous three days. With one swift kick, I slid the wastebasket halfway across the linoleum tiled floor and underneath the now sagging sheetrock to catch the water leaking through the roof.
While I can’t speak explicitly about the monsoon season in Nigeria, I can speak about Texas weather. The spring and summer of 2005 were a particularly wet time— it seemed like it rained nonstop for five months. It rained to the point that the Corps of Engineers were forced to open the flood gates on the lakes and reservoirs throughout Texas. As noted at the time, these floodgates had not been operated in at least 50 years, that being when they were installed in the 1950’s, and it was of concern that some of the flood gates might not close once they were opened. In the end, some of them did not close.
2021 is too an interesting year in the U.S., both politically and meteorologically. February produced winter weather that had not been encountered in forty years. Greenhouses all across the affected area collapsed when the temperatures dropped below 0F for multiple days and the power grid in Texas totally collapsed— even the more sturdy of hoop houses were no match for the 8-10 inches of ice and snow that accumulated over those few days.
And now, here we are in the season of the monsoon. In my part of east Texas, where I have a small farm of trees, greenhouses, and a rooster named Joe, it has rained nonstop and continually for three straight months. When I phoned Seth Jones just a few days ago to inquire about the status of the South Murvaul Succulent website launch, he yelled something into the phone about his saguaro seedlings being underwater and then I heard him gurgle and the phone line went dead.
If there is a takeaway from this weather phenomenon, I would accent the importance and functionality of the raised bed garden. Despite the endless rain, perhaps a well draining raised bed could produce a quality of tomato that otherwise might not be seen this season. This same idea can extend to the cactus garden. I recently toured my backyard and I discovered an unidentified Opuntia, sent to me from Arizona, that had rotted completely in half at the base. Upon closer inspection, I realized I had failed to elevate the pot off the ground with bricks or stones and the pot could not drain its excess water. I found a bit of humor in that— no matter how well your soil drains, if the pot doesn’t drain…
Today is now June 11th and I am just sitting down to finish this article. It appears we have hiatus from the rains— at least for now. My weather app isn’t predicting rain for another seven days in east Texas; however, the same can’t be said for Owerri. They are scheduled for seven days of thunderstorms and likely many more after that.
Ok, that’s all I have for now. I have to climb up on that roof and start patching holes and slathering tar. Wish me luck and pray the ladder stays where it’s supposed to.