The summer has not been gentle here in the San Fernando Valley. Has it been gentle anywhere this year? We've had drought and wild fires, broken all records for hottest days, and spent most of our time trying to stay out of the sun and hydrated. Our air conditioner was sighing and dying about three o'clock in the afternoon during one of our hottest weeks. Our tempers were short. And sleep was hard to come by when the nights were not much cooler than the days.
Now temperatures in the 90's seem very tolerable...pleasant, even. And since the days are getting shorter, the sun doesn't punish for quite as long. Nights are bearable. There have been some overcast mornings, reminding us that fall is on the way.
My garden calls to me -- it needs a lot of attention. So many plants have wilted, been burned, and some have given up entirely. But it's still too hot out there to spend much time doing big tasks. So I water when it seems prudent, dead-head the roses, and remember that soon it will be cool enough to do more. And I am lucky to have gardeners young and hardy enough to do what has to be done on a weekly basis. They make having a garden at all a possibility, and I am so glad to have them.
The last couple of days I have been happy to help in my daughter's garden by refreshing and replanting the pots that liven up her gardens. Her preschool opens in another week, and she's making ready. It's like building a nest, really, for these little ones who will come to play and learn. Soon they will plant their own vegetable garden alongside of the wild and wide-ranging pumpkin plant that has somehow survived and thrived through this hot summer.
Finding something useful to do during these hot days has not been easy. When temperatures dropped a bit, and I realized I could sit on a comfortable bench under the shade of an accommodating pine tree in her front garden, I volunteered to take on the task of the pots. By the time they were all gathered and placed within reach, I think there were about an even dozen.
Shopping for plants gives me an excuse to go to my favorite nursery. It's some miles from the house, but they have the healthiest plants and the widest choices. I found marigolds, zinnias, variegated lettuces, gazanias, Mexican poppies, Elephant bush, and, of course, geraniums.
It took me the better part of three mornings, but the satisfaction far exceeded the time spent. I was finally able to do something outside. I was no longer trapped by the stale and refrigerated air of the house or car. And the thing about gardening, even in the smallest of pots, is being in touch with the earth and a part of the green, green world.
Liberated at last from the prison of a stifling summer and into the possibilities of fall, my task was the perfect tonic for body and spirit.
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