i confess: i was not at my best Wednesday morning "stuff" was getting the best of me. Gratefully, i'd made plans to take a little field trip with a friend and worked hard as we drove together to let go of the dratted gnat-like bothers still buzzing in my head.
Our goal: to visit and ramble through a sunflower maze the largest of its kind on the east coast and just a few miles from our town.
What an absolute surprisingly delightful experience this little morning outing turned into!
i've driven past very happy sunflower fields previous summers and have various types in my garden ever year but i've never before kept such intimate company with literally thousands of them
i could not stop smiling
and admiring the various other visitors that were out with us that day
a pollen drenched soldier beetle
The farmer has sown millions of seeds in succession so that there will be glorious heads to visit for several more weeks and now we can examine them in all their stages from bud to heavy heads laden with ripening seeds
John Parke (who is a project director with Audubon) and his son Aidan
i do apologize, dear visitor and issue this alert: this post contains a rather lengthy moan and groan about the unforgivable weather However, after i vent i do share some more positive thoughts and a pleasant photo or two. If you don't wish to indulge my rant you can jump down to the photo for a few, more positive thoughts. And now, the rant:
Yesterday, it was 109F in the parking lot of the movie theater when we came out at 2pm
it was 102F in the garden.
Outside, away from the unnatural "conditioned" air it is difficult to breathe shade offers no respite. Nights are long and restless
This is simply not natural for our region. It feels as though Hades has come, uninvited plopped down with a greedy grin and is refusing to leave until it has sucked all of the life out of every living thing.
Standing in line at the deli i overheard a man say "I'd take a week of snow and ice over this awful stuff." i wanted to hug him. Given that he was a total stranger i resisted the urge and just gave him a grin and a nod instead.
i confess that i feel not one iota of sympathy for those who moan only in rain or snow--and thereby reveal their utter ignorance for the needs of the natural world around them. Yes, of course i empathize with those who feel trapped, or threatened living in a climate they dislike. But, i confess i find it difficult to voice my understanding when most are silent during heat and drought.
i find the rote, endlessly chanted-from-every-outlet "sunshine = happiness" to be utterly foolish and distasteful. Those in this seemingly vast chorus are obviously blind and do not see the large tracts of dead maples, oaks, ash and other important native trees across the hillsides, fields and mountains of the entire northeast. Worse, if they do see them, they fail to comprehend the disaster those skeletons warn us of. News outlets never notice until conditions are desperate. This widely accepted blindness, or ignorance--or just plain silence while the sun shines relentlessly--hurts me. i try hard not to, but i'm afraid i take it personally.
i write a garden column for our local daily and i do my best to learn what i need to know about all of this and to share it. i've written frequently too frequently over the past decade about my case of RSAD, "reverse seasonal affective disorder" and i posted this public service announcement/warning on Facebook for all those who live in my vicinity: DO NOT utter the words "isn't this gorgeous weather". We just might learn that looks can kill or maim. It was my attempt at a sour joke after i'd come in from the smothering heat.
Writing publically about my distaste for hot weather has given others permission to acknowledge their distaste for blistering summer heat. Last spring, when it rained and rained and rained some more nearly every week, for two months we smiled, knowingly when we ran into each other. A postal clerk whispered "I know most people walk around miserable, but I love this." When individuals stopped me to exclaim, "I can't believe how fabulous the roses were this year!" i explained, "It was the good snow pack over the past 2 winters--and all that rain." Most just stared back slack-jaw incredulous. "You can't be serious" in their eyes.
It's bad enough that my body revolts in temperatures above 80F (i've experience one too many bouts of heat exhaustion in my attempts to "tough it out" when i was hired to design, install and maintain gardens) Even so, i could cope with being trapped indoors with the ac and fans running 24/7 i could read, play in PhotoShop, and haul the hoses around in the early morning hours while Hades reigns if it weren't for the fact that this type of heat destroys so much of what i love out there (including wildlife) where no one can irrigate.
Leaves from the beloved birch rain down as it attempts to protect itself from further loss of moisture. The running joke is that weather forecasters are always wrong, right?? i surely hope so, because--contrary to popular assumptions i've lost more trees, shrubs and "hardy" perennials to summer than any of the "harsh winters" that have come our way over the past 30+ years.
My heart leaped up when the dawn revealed an overcast sky to shield us, if only a few short hours from the harsh sun.
OK. ,nuf of that. For today. Thank you, dear visitor (if you are still with me) for listening and indulging me. i do feel better for having expressed these feelings...even if you left. Now...onto other things.
There are cheery blue chicory flowers in a sea of lovely grass ignored by the men with their terrible mowing machines
and tropical plants in pots like this Plumbago auriculata
The other very bright spot, The Movie the final installment of the Harry Potter saga was a very wonderful surprise definitely not the disappointment i had expected after seeing the very poor HP &DH part one.
i had determined that i would see the films even tho the previous 3 had been disappointing. It was my duty to sweet Jon the nephew who is/was my best friend and who got me hooked on the books. An avid reader, the HP books were the only ones in the fantasy genre he ever liked. He had read them and listened to the audio versions several times and was my source when i forgot details in books 4-6. He laughed in a scolding manner when, at first, i mixed up the names Dumbledore and Gandalf. (Neither he nor i enjoy Tolkein. Sorry!)
While watching the boring HP & DH part 1 i could hear him saying what i was thinking, too "that part of the book can only be read" and "Wow. They blew it at the end of the film. Hollow. Devoid of the wrenching feelings of awe at the loss of Dobby."
Part 2. Completely different experience. i was enthralled. It was a satisfying conclusion to Harry's saga. It's as if the filmmakers saved all of their heart for last. i was especially moved with the marvelous artistry in the rendering of that magnificent, tortured white dragon crawling up, up, up to his freedom, Snape's petronus, and the revelation of his true character, and, of course, Harry's final battle.
It was simply a heart-full. My sister, my nephew, my niece were all with me. Just like when i read the book.
Even tho the heat from Hades slapped us in the face as we opened the doors and left the theater to step out into blazing sunshine (me, my sister and friend) our full hearts carried us up and above all the rest of the day.
So often, people get things so very, very wrong. It felt so good to sit for 2.5 hours carried away with people who got it right.
i play with the New Boy morning noon and night (Yes, he finally has a name. More on him later... when i can finally get a photo or 2. He is such a wiggle worm!) work and play endlessly in photoshop empty and refill the ice cube trays twice a day make plans to go see a movie in the middle of tomorrow's heat and at night i sit in front of the fan in the company of this new set of night lights. (Just in case there is a ruckus in the night i really don't wish to smash a toe, racing to see what New Boy and Spike are up to)
So much more fun don't you think than the regular sort?
The sun is a beast today. Thin clouds are doing their best to protect us.
in my next life i wish to be a bird or a cat so that when the incompatible weather (heat) arrives i could fly away
Oh! let me be a chimney swift and live my life on the wing away, away up so high
or like the purring fur ball that lives here let me sleep all day wake just long enough to stretch, eat a morsel, drink stretch, then sleep until it's gone.
If i must be human then let me when the suffocating heat arrives flee to a perfect little house on an island beach at the lip of a shallow harbor
where the thermometer rarely touches 80 degrees F
Come June, i dash in and quickly splash out of the little sea at my door step
and in July it is delicously chilly at first but only bracing and in August my dear friends come visit and we share breakfast then body surf in blue green waves and in September i spend every evening watching the sun drop past the horizon
and in October i come back to this home and the turning of the leaves.
ah, well. Finally, i can take a deep breath. Because, while i've been composing this a stiff breeze has kicked up and clouds are thickening and is that thunder i hear in the distance?!
Today, with heat smothering my face singeing my nerves i did remember some important things:
i used to live where it was truly hot and many friends and family still do
i once dreamed of living here
and now, here i am. i can look out any of my windows at the 1001 shades of green and the blue sky and cotton white clouds at the iris & peonies
allium & grasses and a the buds on a deutzia and the first roses
i will close my eyes and savor the sweet evening breeze on my sweaty face and thank my guardian stars that i could flee that desert before i turned to dust and live and breathe, here in this big house with big windows full of trees and sky and in this garden.
i have the great good fortune of spending one weekend a month at Greenwood Gardens Labor Day weekend was my weekend this month and when i arrived and saw the oleanders in flower i was drenched in a wave of nostalgia remembering the row of oleanders that grew along the irrigation ditch across the street from my parent's house.
In our corner of the southwest the oleanders were in flower by "Decoration Day" a.k.a. Memorial Day and my father would harvest armfuls of the pink and white blossoms to place at his parents gravestones.
But they do not hold sad connotations for me just the opposite: they are tough, resilient plants planted widely by "Go West, Young Man" pioneers in their new, desert communities. When i think of oleanders i remember the ditch that ran beneath their boughs. Being dry most of the time
the ditch became my secret hideaway
a place to escape the burning sun
and dream of greener, cooler lands.
i returned to Greenwood yesterday to help with one of the "Open Days" i was stationed in the cool and breezy upper level of the stone teahouse
gratefully! Yesterday was, naturally, extremely hot and humid Every visitor who came inside the little room exclaimed at the marked difference in temperature. Every now and then i stepped outside, just to see what a difference a foot-thick wall of stone and mortar makes.
Sitting here this afternoon a day later completely comfy in my cooled room i took one of the other images of oleander and messed about a bit thinking of silk scarves
This photograph is something i grabbed quickly a couple of weeks ago. It was the oddest sensation: It was late afternoon the gibbous moon shone weakly in the remains of a sultry-overcast sky i was indoors one moment there was familiar soft summer light filling the windows the next moment snap your fingers it was sucked away just like that! Both of us hurried to the south facing windows asking each other "What...?" as we met in the hallway. The sky was being swallowed by a massive black cloud sliding in from the west. i grabbed my camera ran outside all the while trying to remember how fresh are the batteries in the flashlights? and feeling relieved that the pantry was in good shape. A curious, sickening excitement grabbed my stomach a terrible beauty something fierce was on its way.
The cloud moved quickly i had time for only a couple of shots of the glowing moon before it was gone and it was dark hours before night normally arrives and the rain came. Amazingly, i learned from the television that the worst was south of us and any guilty thrill is washed away as i hear the announcers warn more flooding for those folks is most likely coming their way.