[originally written 6/9/08]
It’s June 9th and I believe the temperatures broke records today hitting 100º in Baltimore. We’ve gone from temperatures in the 60’s two weeks ago to high 90’s this week. And the gardening work has taken on a different reality of moving through warm flannel air that is too hot for the skin, instead of wearing flannel layers to stay warm.
This has been a spring of monsoons. And my garden shows it. Poppies have been so gonzo that they are as tall as I am when I stand near the edge of the bed. Last week they were a popping of pink fluttery wings in the wind and this week most of them are tall, green pods that will dry up to release next year’s poppies in the form of tiny black seeds. Generally I allow the garden to go through a shedding phase of graying, dying stalks as the seeds dry in the pods, an ungracefulness that I’m not sure most garden owners would allow. But it’s a birthing process for the seeds with the pained dying of the stalks, no less than the pain of birthing any other creature. It’s okay with me. Seems only right, actually.
I’m not writing my book these days. It’s summer and the gardens and all the plant babies are taking my attention. Instead of raising my head from the computer to peer out onto the winter silhouettes of tree trunks beyond the house, I’ve got a clematis vine that is determined to grow through the window screen behind me and wrap me up in summer’s embrace. The rains have fed everything, including this clematis. And I’m rather enjoying its playful tendrils that are seeking grasp up the side of the house instead of the pruned bush that it normally grows on. Let it have its way.
Ah, peas are coming in (not into the window) but they never make into the house, much as I think they’ll be good in a salad. I eat them straight off the vine outside. Too sweet and delectable to travel into the kitchen. Strawberries I share with the slugs and black bugs. I added to my strawberry collection by driving out to a big farm an hour west of me on Saturday to pick a large basket of them from a huge field in the blazing sun. Rows and rows of stunning plants with hidden berries. Lovely pickings and if it were not for my back telling me that it had enough leaning and squatting, I would have picked twice the amount. What I’ll do with them, I’m not sure yet. Frozen with suger, yes. Sliced with sugar, yes. Strawberry-rhubarb pie? Maybe. But with these temps, who could bear to turn on the oven to cook?
I love spring moving into summer. Can’t wait for the fresh cucumbers from the garden. Too much to observe and relish in outside to spend much time in front of the computer!