Gardeners, like farmers, talk a great deal about the weather, so I’m sure I mentioned our wet spring, the four wettest on record, if you must know. After that deluge, however, the weather gods have kept the faucet firmly in the OFF position. We’ve had less than an inch of rain in a month!
And it’s been hot. Too hot to hang out in the garden, except very early in the morning. This makes me grumpy, especially since watering a gigantic garden isn’t exactly inspiring work. Holding a hose and sweating like a prize fighter is nearly as glamorous as it sounds.
But, as always, I try to find the silver lining. For example, the lawn might be crunchy but at least it doesn’t need mowing. The crops of beans, berries, and carrots are much smaller than usual, but the tomatoes and peppers are absolutely loving the drought. I’ve got dry-farmed tomatoes!
Sunflowers are stoic, too, and the bees appreciate it.
The dozen small fruit trees that comprise our orchard were looking decidedly droopy, so I lugged a five-gallon bucketful for each tree from the far side of the house. Two buckets at a time equals eighty pounds each trip. Yesterday I did the same for the berries. Brightside thinking: that’s my upper body workout for the week.
As I wait to hear whether my publisher wants my next book, I’m doing my level best to apply the same bucket-half-full (pun-intended) outlook to my writing life. I tell myself I’ve had a good run during a difficult era, that I’ve already achieved far more than I ever expected. (Note: My expectations are as low as my ambition is high. Makes for interesting arguments with myself.) I’ve been thinking I could take up painting or return to playing guitar. I could try a new sport—suggest one for me! Or I could figure out how to relax and do less. (Cue laughter.) And, yes, I know I am beyond fortunate to have such choices, I really do.
Even when the skies look like this, it might not rain. And whether that’s a good thing or not depends on whether you are a tomato or a green bean. Vegetables have no choice in their requirements, but people often do. As I wait for news and rain, I experiment with frames of reference, different ways to spin the uncertainty. Maybe it’s just self-protection, a way of souring the grapes dangling out of reach. I’m good with that, with whatever reframing keeps me sane and content as I anticipate whatever may fall from the sky, or fail to.
A rain dance that doesn’t bring rain is still a dance, and the real feel is what matters.
Sonja Yoerg grew up in Stowe, Vermont where she financed her college education by waitressing at the Trapp Family Lodge. She earned a Ph.D. in biological psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and wrote a nonfiction book about animal intelligence, Clever as a Fox. Sonja is the author of four novels: House Broken, Middle of Somewhere, All the Best People, and the upcoming True Places. When she’s not traipsing around the world with her husband, Sonja can be found in her garden overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.