OMG, Thank You for a harvest in which there is standing room only!
After writing a novel, I emerged from my cave, craving ice cream, conversation and sunlight. A Moose Tracks sundae equaled ice cream therapy. Hubby, waiting for a coherent word from me, took grunts as a portent of better things.
I drank in sunlight. Summer morning air. Green, living things.
Unfortunately, most were weeds. Thousands of Klingon sticker weeds had conquered garden and flower beds.
A flabby author’s perfect therapy: a down-and-dirty battle to rescue oppressed plants. To arms, garden warrior!
I donned grubby jeans, T-shirt, baseball cap and tennis shoes, all of which remembered the turn of the millennium.
Hubby: “No PJs? You’re wearing real clothes?”
For him, it was a long novel.
We bathed in sunscreen as if with war paint, then took up weapons: hoe, rake, hand spade — and cushy kneeling pad.
The sticker weeds jeered at my weak knees. Their lackeys — purslane, marestail, purple deadnettle and, of course, dandelions — joined in. (I researched weed names on a Purdue website. Battle Rule #1: know your enemies.) But I didn’t look up Klingon sticker weeds. I knew dangerous aliens when I saw them.
Weed phasers would have been nice additions to our weaponry cache. But Hubby struck vicious blows, hoeing squash and cucumbers. I attacked beleaguered tomato plants’ foes.
Tanned cyclists zoomed past. Hubby eyed them longingly, but continued valiant efforts. Ponytailed runners wearing designer attire and perfect makeup stared as if they hoped what I had wasn’t catching.
Whew! After a morning-long battle, we showered, wolfed sandwiches and Hubby went to work.
I peered out the back door, wanting to savor the view of our perfect garden again.
My jaw dropped.
An overloaded mulberry tree branch had dropped like a bomb, bending tomato plant cages. Smaller branches, leaves and mashed berries smothered veggie rows.
The mulberry tree was in cahoots with Klingon sticker weeds!
Such perfect timing. The moment Hubby left the driveway, the tree had unleashed its barrage.
I yanked at the big branch. It barely budged.
“You think you’ve won, Klingon-sticker-weed lover? Well, you’ve got another thing coming.”
A giant swoosh of anger can fuel a woman. Armed with hedge trimmers, saws and my husband’s old Boy Scout hatchet, I reduced my enemy to sawdust. Well, not exactly. But by afternoon’s end, I’d removed most of the mess.
Superwoman still couldn’t move the big branch. When Hubby returned, he sawed it into sections and hauled them out.
Once again, I savored the sight of tidy rows of vegetables.
Ah, the sunset. The fragrant summer evening. Green things that were legal.
A tired writer’s perfect therapy.
Exactly what she needed to send her back to her laptop forever!
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Does gardening relax you or wipe you out?
O Lord, Your critters regard our garden as their personal Golden Corral. They pilfer green beans and peppers. They make off with our tomatoes. Maybe, OMG, You might talk them into stealing some squash?
O Lord, no human beings look as enthusiastic about pulling weeds as we do about eating ice cream. Yet, OMG, thank You for our grandkids’ excellent help in shaping up garden and house!
I will never inflict such harm on my readers. I keep my lousy poetry to myself. I never coerce anyone into studying her belly button. As for my being a windbag — perish the thought!
Having dispelled these unfortunate associations, let us return to my profound end-of-summer reflections:
- Regardless of propaganda touting it as the ingredient for pizza, smoothies and cheesecakes, nobody likes kale.
- My husband’s “short” bike rides require a passport.
- Grandbabies’ discriminating palates prefer four summer food groups: sand, mud, gravel and sticks.
- My palate also dictates four summer food groups: butter pecan, salted caramel fudge, chocolate almond, and Moose Tracks.
- A related reflection: Skinny, beautiful people on TV drool over yogurt, but they never, ever will convince us it can replace ice cream.
- I sleep with only a sheet, but still need a quilt on my feet.
- If we water gardens to induce rain, the clouds know.
- Also, the probability of rain is in direct proportion to the amount we spent on Cubs tickets.
- If not for relatives’ summer visits, would the carpet get swept from June through September?
- Nobody really likes an ecologically diverse yard. Or wants me to preserve the prairie.
- Morning glories I plant always shrivel as if my trellis were radioactive. Yet a thousand healthy, nasty lovelies strangle my cucumbers.
- Deer who scavenge neighborhoods never eat crabgrass.
- Scratching sounds in an attic mean raccoons have started a summer obstetric ward there — or mosquitoes have grown bigger than I expected.
- While rainy days ruin human vacations, my fern, Carolyn, considers steamy conditions a five-star experience.
- If you live by a lake, visit kin who live by a different lake. Hurry, because it’s almost fall, and that’s the only way you’ll get a free vacation, too.
- I and other Stain Queens should be forbidden by law to wear white pants.
- People who grill only vegetables are not to be trusted.
- If a certain age, never shop the weekend before school starts. You will park in a different zip code. You also will return home with 143 15-cent notebooks.
- Ferris wheels at county fairs still fill me with six-year-old wow.
- After a lifetime of watching people voluntarily buying cotton candy, I still haven’t figured out why.
- Finally, when police know campers next to your site on a first-name basis, pitch a tent in your backyard instead.
Yes, summer will fade, but never fear. I soon will supply my readers with a whole new set of reflections — autumn reflections.
Not that I’m a windbag, or anything. …
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What end-of-summer musings fill your mind?
OMG, did You grow these cucumbers just to give me a grin today? Did they make You laugh, too?
Surely, no one deliberately planted flowers of such pathetic pedigree. These gangly commoners share none of the refinement of day lilies, their aristocratic cousins.
Whoever nurtured mine did not stop with signs. She/he invited them to surround the patio, where an army of orange sentinels stand at attention. Neither horizontal rain, windstorm, nor hail beat them down. Nothing short of a nuclear blast prevents their annual return.
I know this because their anonymous planter also nurtured them around our mailbox — until my husband, replacing it, obliterated the lily bulbs.
Undaunted, the invaders returned, only to be mowed down again and again. And again.
Stubborn? Worse than a gang of telemarketers.
Um … maybe the gardener who introduced the lilies wasn’t so dumb. Perhaps, like me, she/he was desperate. I had nicknamed that flower bed the “Sahara.”
Morning glories, petunias, zinnias, marigolds — none of my usual stalwarts had survived it. Would I have to comb the Internet for Martian cacti?
Instead, I planted lily shoots. Three days later, they had not shriveled.
Gasp! What had I done?
Yet, I could not yank them. I just … kind of forgot to water them.
Finally, the hopeful sprigs disintegrated into yellow July dust. I could forget my embarrassing temporary insanity.
Until the following March. Tiny, green leaves stuck out, na-na-na-boo-boo tongues that grew into spindly plants.
How could I pull them? They have flourished unpampered.
Though I wouldn’t mind if they conquered the crabgrass.
Vases chock full of lilies do brighten my mantels. My dining room table. My piano. …
All right, so my deep, dark secret is out.
I have plebian tastes. I like orange lilies.
These flowers scorn Better Homes and Gardens ratings. They grow in vacant lots, parking lots, behind Big Lots. Their determination to cover their world with beauty knows no limits.
Funny, her people bouquets consist of the unsung, too. She gathers needy children, cherishing beauty bypassed by others. Maybe the wealth of orange lilies edging her fence inspire her days.
As mine should.
Anyone blessed with orange-lilyfied street signs — even a dead-end one — is bound to see her world in a beautiful way.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What “plebian” flowers do you like?
Once upon a time, in our backyard, there lived Penelope the peach tree.
Actually, two lived there. But even as we moved in, Percy the peach tree took one look at us, his new owners, and said, “There goes the neighborhood!” He never recovered.
Penelope delayed her judgment. Still, she expressed her disapproval: not one peach appeared that first summer. Next spring, though, pale pink blossoms crowded Penelope’s branches, exquisite as an oriental painting. I told Hubby, “That tree loves us.”
Visions of bubbling, crusty pie à la mode and caramel peach praline shortcake filled my salivating days.
However, when Hubby thinned tiny, excess peaches from Penelope’s branches, she took revenge by producing three edible fruits — and a thousand that resembled green ball bearings rolled in pepper.
The mutant peaches did not go to waste, however. I made jam as Christmas gifts for my less-than-favorite relatives.
The following year, we respectfully requested Penelope produce real, peach-colored peaches, bigger than a marble. And no black rash, please.
Some trees, like some people, can’t take constructive criticism. The following spring, she wore only a few sulky blossoms and no fruit. Our fractured relationship distressed me. My relatives started speaking to me again, once they knew they wouldn’t receive pepper peach jam at Christmas.
It was a very sad year.
Next spring, however, blossoms crowded Penelope’s branches. Perhaps she’d repented of her pettiness. More likely, she simply forgot. Peach trees aren’t known for sharp memories.
When hubby thinned Penelope’s too-plentiful peaches again, I exercised caution when walking behind the garage, her domain. Would Penelope throw her remaining peaches at us?
Surprise! Penelope’s green peaches grew from marble to golf ball to baseball size. So many loaded one branch that it cracked. She obligingly provided just enough greenish, pepper-dotted fruit to make Christmas jam for my relatives.
But Penelope’s peaches ripened in her time frame — not when I was free to pick, peel and slice. Because of writing deadlines, I remained chained to my laptop.
Hubby made new weekend plans.
As my dearly beloved donned an apron, we heard devious chuckles from behind the garage. Penelope exacts revenge on peach-pruners, one way or another.
Hubby griped. But I had infected him with my pie and praline shortcake vision. He peeled and packaged.
Is he a peach of a guy, or what?
To Penelope, this ending to her saga may seem like the pits.
But smiling at each other over hot peach pie and ice cream, we’ll take Penelope’s “happily ever after” every time!
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite peach indulgence?