Adams County was looking pretty dry for a while — lawns turning brown, creeks seemingly lower than normal. As July reached its end, the county was nearly an inch below normally expected rainfall. An inch does not seem like much, but an inch atop the grass and nearby forests, every street and every vehicle, and every roof is a lot of water, especially when it is missing. It was, indeed, a lot of water that did not fall on the county’s skin during the months of June and July.

That changed in August, and as September takes its place in 2020, rainfall seems about normal, largely because for weeks at a time the precipitation was a “garden rain” — early constant but light — the kind of rain that soaks into the ground rather than rushing immediately to the Chesapeake Bay, carrying with it tons of topsoil and a lethal variety of fertilizer, oils, detergents and other chemicals.

John Messeder is an award-winning environmental columnist and social anthropologist, and lives in Gettysburg. He may be contacted at

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