October: Hey I’m back (and awake)

Posted on Oct 5, 2011 | 2 comments

There are summers so hot they take a petal or two off your life span. This summer was one of those for me. Two months of unrelenting hundred-plus degree days included a few that read 109 in my backyard which set a new personal record on the highest number I’ve ever actually seen on a thermometer in the shade.

To spend a couple of weeks watching my local temps go consistently higher than Tuscon, Arizona was a sobering reminder that you can do many things right and good in your garden and still get your butt kicked to the ground by a burning sun, skies that refuse to rain, and a tide of bugs who were loving it. Battalions of grasshoppers I’m saying. Even with a most excellent drip-irrigation system, I discovered that beyond a certain temp, even heat loving vegetables will just hunker down and do absolutely nothing beyond staying alive. Of course any farmer would of have told me that you’ll have years like this…

So to be writing this in cool, lovely, perfect October days seems to risk breaking the wall of forgetfulness I’d like to maintain around ‘heat dome 2011.’ The same wall that had me not-posting, not-planting, not-cultivating and therefore not feeling very much myself. It was a poem my friend Ann read that seemed to break the oppressive spell that had lingered in my garden-mind even after the weather finally broke. Here are a few lines:

“I went to sleep in the summer

I dreamed of rain

in the morning the fields were wet

and it was autumn.”

—from “September” by Linda Pastan

And that’s how it felt. I kind of woke up in late September and wandered out to the garden to see what could happen for fall. Put in a few seeds I’d collected (aha! There were good things that happened over the summer after all…more on those in upcoming posts.) from my favorite ‘Larrapin Kale’ and Monstrueux de Viroflay spinach and they popped up quick.

Once I saw those little seedlings, something woke up again and I began to notice things again like the humming sound of bees adoring the basil that is flowering and setting seed.

And there I was awake again, finally! I knew because for the first time in what seemed like many many weeks, I began to find beauty all over the place. Here’s to yet another season, yet another chance to begin again. I love that about gardening.

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2 Comments

  1. What a summer. This is the first time I am looking forward to a winter break! Your basil and zinnia are lovely. gail

  2. And the garden is looking terrific as it gets all cleaned up and cover-cropped for winter. Also little kales and spinach growing. Although we could still use a little more rain…