||Hole #8 - Weather Report
Someone's been over-watering the fairways lately, and there's one particular golfer who's not too happy about it. July typically is the month with the most precipitation in Mongolia but this year it's gotten out of hand. Rainfall has been way above average this year (making my golf below average). In fact, it has rained every night for the last ten days.
I don't mind golfing in the rain, and most of the precipitation actually falls at night anyway. But the big problem is the explosion of weed growth out on the steppe. Biologists may call them native flora, but to the golfer they're weeds. Some of the valleys now have kilometers of knee-high growth. The greens keepers have evidently taken the summer off and the golf course is looking like a mess these days.
I'm not insensitive and I realize that this rain is good news for Mongolia. The thick greenery gives the animals plenty to munch on for the next few months until winter sets in. There have been droughts in the past that have caused serious hardship on the people because their animals were not able to fatten up properly before winter. In a country where livestock is the key to survival, this is a serious issue. But, I feel like a diabetic in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Everyone's happy about the rain and I'm not allowed any treats.
The dry plains with short clumps of grass that I experienced in June during the first six holes are long gone. Now, I'm wading through a sea of vegetation that, having had its thirst quenched, is now swallowing up my golf balls.
I hate these weeds enough, but there's also evil lurking in there. The stinging nettle. Put it on your list of most wanted terrorist plants because its sole purpose is to deliver cruelty and harm to passers-by, especially unsuspecting golfers wearing shorts. It's biological warfare is what it is. If Donald Rumsfeld found out about it, I'm sure Mongolia would be placed on the list of terrorist nations for possessing biological weapons. A simple brush of this devious weed with any part of your body produces dozens of painful stings that linger on like the search for Saddam Hussein.
The stormy weather that charges over the mountains and across the steppe every night has produced some incredible light and sound shows. I may have mentioned this before but the sound of thunder crashing through the rolling hills and long valleys of the steppe is truly awesome. It's enough to make any teenager with a sub-woofer in the trunk of their car jealous. It echoes and rolls past you again and again, producing a bass note that you can feel in every part of your body. This aural assault combines with rainbows, lightning flashes, and beautiful sunsets to create a scene better than anyone in Hollywood could imagine.
Experts tell me that the rain has been even heavier in the mountainous west where the last nine holes are headed. I've been told that I should expect similar vegetation problems and many lost golf balls as I move in that direction. Having this information rained down on me hasn't exactly brightened my spirits any more than the dark black clouds that loom on the horizon. But blindly optimistic, I continue to sidestep the stinging foliage, and weed-whack my way toward the setting sun.
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