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DRYING TIMES: Scenes From the Drought
Phil and daughter, Livia.
Walk into Phil and Linda Lautenschlager's back yard in Bethesda and harbor no doubt: Gardeners live here. There are ferns, hostas, geraniums, dozens of day lillies, a vegetable garden, blueberries and raspberries.

"On weekends, sometimes we'll be out from seven in the morning to seven at night," says Linda, 44, who like her husband works for the U.S. Commerce Department.

Not anymore. Weeds are conquering the lawn and the earth has hardened like cement around their roots. The day lillies are topless. Four buckets line the back patio to catch the rainwater that almost never comes. A fifth one sits under the air-conditioning unit, collecting one drip at a time.

Phil, 64, lived through droughts in Missouri that lasted into winter. He is resigned about this one.

"It's God's plants and it's God's drought," he says. "Go with it."

Virginia doesn't have mandatory water conservation, but it doesn't have rain, either.

In North Arlington, Robin Pentola and her husband, Bruce, use their cooking water and dish water to feed their vegetable garden. Just one geranium remains from the dozen Robin planted along their walkway in May.

She's 34, a Defense Department consultant, who grew up in Maryland. Her parents and grandmother still live there and she's conserving to show unity in the region.

She eyes a towering oak tree on the edge of the street, so old that it predates the development and the sidewalk snakes around it.

"You worry about big, old trees," says Pentola. "Flowers show it first, but the trees can be really damaged."

Audio Robin Pentola: "You worry about big old trees."


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