Blowing Hot and Cold


Nothing is glummer                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Than a cold in the summer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A summer cold                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Is to have and to hold.

  ~  Ogden Nash, Fahrenheit Gesundheit


It is ironic that on the hottest day of the year (September 10th!) I continue to harbor a nasty late-summer cold. We’re five weeks into another drought, and during the long, necessary hours of watering the gardens, it feels odd to be sneezing and taking breaks to greatly enrich the investments of Kleenex stockholders.

My voice sounds like a sheep crossed with a foghorn, and several bees and wasps seem to be lodged, circling and thrumming, in my head. It figures: a couple of weeks ago I smugly announced to Phillip how interesting it is that “I never get sick. Just never. It’s been years.”

Lesson learned.


It does seem, though, like the hours spent watering are also cooking the tenacious virus out of my system…More irony: What’s killing the garden is healing me.

It looked like we might avoid a drought this year. We enjoyed a temperate spring and bountiful summer, harvesting more asparagus, gooseberries, and cherries than ever.

Gooseberries Galore 008

The gardens seemed to be recovering so well from last summer’s horrendous months of aridity. But August and September have set us back again. We’re grateful that several gallons of tomato sauce are already in the freezer, but the grass is dying back, the trees and wildlife are suffering, and there are more of both than we can care for, thoroughly.


So I’ve begun to blow a bit cold on gardening, too. I’m willing to plant, weed, and tend my gardens for hours, and have, for 50 years, starting with a tiny flower patch my father and I prepared for my first garden. (Moss roses, bachelor buttons, zinnias and marigolds: A gardener is born.) But I have to admit that the past two summers have robbed me of the rewards previous years have afforded. I used to feel the joy of midwifing a nursery full of thriving greenery, blossoms, and food; now, I feel like a full-time hospice worker once again: Who might die today?


The long hours that formerly yielded deep peace and contentment are leaving me feeling, well, forlorn and bereft. I miss the partnership of Mother Nature; we used to co-create so happily together, though I understand her abandonment after decades of maltreatment and abuse by beings who should know better.

Still, there’s a garden in the front yard that needs to be overhauled, and I can’t help but get a little excited about planning its design…all the plants could be drought-resistant, and irrigated wisely.

Maybe I need to keep working at it, showing Mother Nature my intent here is earnest and my commitment faithful; maybe that’s the only way both of us will heal and find each other again. Isn’t true love always renewed in a garden?



Now, where are those garden-design books?

(See Ogden Nash’s entire whole poem here.)



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6 thoughts on “Blowing Hot and Cold

  1. Feel better soon, Kitty; you have my complete sympathy. I got my second wind in the garden last week when the temps dropped down to the 60’s and 70’s, but we were back in the 90’s yesterday and today – ouch! We’re more fortunate than you as we have had some rain but it makes the sultry temps seem even higher.

    I’m so sorry to hear that you are back in drought conditions again, but as you are discovering, there are always new opportunities in difficult situations. Drought has not been a problem here but I am seriously rethinking the garden for the opposite reason – a deluge of rain has created such rampant growth that I am overwhelmed with green growth. Can’t keep working this hard!

    Here’s to taking a fresh look at the gardens we love so that they continue to be a joy and not a burden 🙂


    1. Oh, thank you, Lynn; yes, gardening is absolutely a joy that lives deep and sustains, overall…it’s hard, though, to watch the trees and etc., that surround our home suffering; we just can’t water them all, but we’ve set out water-filled dishes that we wash and refill every day (gotta watch out for West Nile Virus here) for all the birds and 4-legged guests. There’s some solace in doing what you can, that’s for sure, and in planning what will work with this new normal and still feed our spirits and respect the earth…We may receive some rain in the next week and–hooray–the heat leaves tonight. I so appreciate your time and insights; gentle peace in managing all that lush green abundance. 🙂


  2. Oh Kitty….you poor thing. These darn bugs are draining and wretched and sap the very spirit don’t they? And on top of that to see your beautiful garden dying despite endless hours of watering must be heartbreaking. I really, really hope you get rain soon.

    We’ve had very strange weather over the last ten years….so much so that I began to keep a journal of world weather changes, and stopped last year when I wrote for the umpteenth time….worst flood/fire/drought/erruption/tornado etc…for a hundred years. When climatologists began to call it weather weirding I stopped my entries. There is no doubt that weather is odd and more extreme everywhere. Here, we have had the longest, coldest spring, followed by a warm dry summer which is strange for us, and now we’ve had torrential rain hammering the dried earth for days, which I guess will cause floods soon.

    As you say it’s impossible to keep all the wildlife safe in such conditions as yours which is also troubling. At the rescue we see casualties of weather more and more often, our native species are struggling to adapt to the changes and numbers are plummeting, six years ago we had 60 million hedgehogs in Britain, now we have 1 million, and given how few we have this year compared to usual I fear that there are even less than that. And I haven’t seen a single honey bee this year….

    Ahhhh, good luck with your re-design….maybe we can do our designs together next spring and post on them….keep at it me dear gal…..and may inspiration whisper.

    You get better soon.xxxx


  3. Thank you sooo much, Dina; I’m feeling almost-great today! The hedgehog statistics are stunning, how devastating! I just keep telling myself, “I’m doing what I can,” and with people like you for inspiration, I’ll keep at it. Thank you. We received a few raindrops this morning and are hoping for more within the week…Good news: When I watered my huge sedums, they were covered with bumble bees, wasps, and honey bees…just alive with them, so that made me happy. The asters and boltonia are covered, too, so it’s satisfying to see we’re helping our little pollinators…

    Yes, happy garden dreaming and planning. I want mine to have grasses and the blooms, like those mentioned, and berries that feed the bees, birds, and butterflies…AND be drought-resistant. And beautiful….Glad I have the winter to create! 🙂
    Be well; love you, Kitty


  4. Sorry to hear that you are suffering from a cold, Kitty. I can imagine how aggravating that is. Here, August is usually the hottest month, and we don’t get rain either in August or September… sometimes it starts towards the end of September, but usually it’s later. Of course, every geographic place has its own expectations. Your pictures are so beautiful. For me, one of the strange things, is to hear that you are uncomfortable with a cold, and at the same time to see such triumphant photographs of nature. I enjoy them thoroughly. I especially liked the one of the high grasses. But each one is like an enlightening poem. I’m sure that the forlorn feeling will ease off when your health returns.


    1. Thank you, Shimon. I really appreciate your insight regarding the photos. I suppose I was reaching a bit for the healing I needed…and the focus-of-being I fall into with my camera certainly distracted me from my buzzing head…at any rate, thank you again. Feeling tip-top and residing more comfortably within my “self” again. :). And yesterday, we received the loveliest long rain…

      I’ve been thinking of you through the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; sending love…Joy to your week.


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