Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Cool

The interior of our house is dark; all curtains drawn against Sun's strong rays. Even the windows are closed...battened down against the searing Wind. The temperatures, for the last week, have hovered around the 40C mark, with little cool of the night occurring.

Lucky and Nate cannot find comfort.  They wander from place to place inside, and then...they want outside. Where they dig. They are digging for the cool. But there is none...even a foot or two underground, the cool only lasts an hour. The dry North Westerly Wind sees to that.

I gave them raw frozen bones this afternoon. This is the doggy equivalent of ice cream cones, in our house. Nate will worry it all day, while Lucky will mess around with it for awhile.  Perhaps long enough to find the cool.

The garden looks torched.  Certain shrubs, tender young things who are not yet accustomed to Sun's punishing, golden rays, have curled, dry leaves.  I am under no doubt they will recover, should this heat wave recede, yet I have no assurance it will, in the immediate future. The long range forecast calls for this weather to continue into the weekend.

The Tomatoes and Cucumbers in the greenhouse seek the watering can twice a day. Their pots completely dry out in eight hours.  I know. I have timed it.  Each time I water, I feel as if I had just done the deed, only just watered them a minute ago...

Water is becoming a concern, as well.

Wildlife has gone underground.  I see little activity besides the amazing population of Bird species who inhabit this place. We recently bid goodbye to a family of Swifts, who decided to work on the bathroom vent until they found entrance...

But the Ant population loves this hot, dry weather.  They pay no never mind to the hot breath of Wind...they continue to do what they were born to do. Did you know male Ants need do nothing other than fertilize the Queen?  They are looked after entirely by female Ants, who run the place. Huh.

I wouldn't mind those Ants, but they must move one of their nests, which is right in the middle of a flowerbed. They lay their eggs in the roots of the plant, leaving Air holes.  The plants dry out.

I've attempted to persuade them to go by flooding them out, but I understand their nests can go 15 feet deep. I am barely scratching the surface with my 'flooding'. We will see where this one goes, since I don't like Ant poisons.

They are such industrious creatures...a heat wave brings about no sloth-like behaviour in these Insects. I tend to admire them; therefore, more than likely they will be allowed to continue their single-minded quests.

And the Wild Asters! They are simply astounding...there is no other word for it. They bloom everywhere, singly, in groups, against the fence, down the bank...their purple hue lights up in the strong Sunlight. With nary a drop of Water, these plants have life in the heat down to a fine Art.

A couple of days ago, whilst waiting for the cool to arrive, I vowed I would continue my own chores, even in the face of the heat. Perhaps I would be slow; however, I wanted to make sure I continued to be mobile and active.

There may be whining, but at least it would be productive whining.

With this in mind, early this morning I watered the garden, a little. With Wind blowing sprinklered Water everywhere, instead I water by hand. I made sure to water the roots; leaves love the moisture, but if those same leaves shield their roots, the plant is in trouble.

I harvested greens...the Mesclun and Lettuces will soon bolt in this heat.

It was time to retire inside, after a few other gardening chores were done. Sun and Wind together created a convection oven-like atmosphere, and my body rebels against it.

Yesterday I picked Saskatoon berries, who are quickly drying up into shrivelled, raisin-like buttons on the plant. And so, today, I extracted the juice from them, after cooking them down. Then, I made Saskatoon/Cherry jelly. How does that sound with a Peanut Butter sandwich?

After this, I made No-Brainer Pasta Salad, which is basically a mix of favourite vegetables, pepperoni and cheese, pasta and an oil and vinegar dressing. I placed it into the refrigerator to marinate until dinner. After a hot day, in an over-heated home, there is nothing better for me than a cold Salad.

Yet, I find I am becoming acclimatized to being in very warm temperatures. I wanted to roll my body into the refrigerator at the beginning of this heat wave.

But now, it appears sweat rarely runs down my face...only if I am foolish and attempt to work at physical labour, in the heat of the day. Or night.

The Ant and Aster population is still ahead of this poor human...

Even with their example, right there in front of me, the female Ants working desperately, so singlemindedly, at the breach in their nest, in the blazing Sun...even with that!

I am still, along with our two dogs, trying to find the cool.

But there is a Lake, not far from me.

Deep and I'm told, very, very cool...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Dry

It's been hot and by all reports, it's becoming even hotter towards the weekend.

There are many wildfires burning right now, in British Columbia, and today there were reports of a lightning Storm once more hitting the interior of the province. Parks in Vancouver have prohibited all barbecues and smoking...and people are confined to pathways only.

The Province is dry everywhere. In the Interior here, I can smell the Forest, during the day's heat. It is the smell of Fir branches, just before they ignite, in a bonfire. The Forest is tinder dry...any animal who wanders through can no longer count on stealth as branches and leaves break and crackle.

At night, lying sleepless in the heat, I feel as if there are bricks lying on my chest...it is hard to breathe. It rarely cools off; this morning at 7AM the temperature on the deck was already 21C.

It is difficult to believe how cold it was just a few months ago...I saw a photo I had taken during one of our icy spells and shook my head...was it really that cold?

The heat is enervating. I find Sun's rays to be very strong...much stronger than I remember them to be on the Coast. Perhaps it is my age, or perhaps it is global warming or even the clarity of the Cariboo's Air...but I can no longer challenge Sun's intensity and wander outside in the middle of the day.

Once upon a time, I could continue gardening, for instance, even during the peak of Sun's heat. But now, the strong rays of Sun penetrate even my trusty hat.

I find living here one of the most challenging things I have done, so far. The beauty of the central interior of the province to me cannot be denied, but there is a price to pay for the privilege of enjoying it.

For an Island girl, one used to misty, rainy mornings, I find what I call the Dry really difficult to handle. And even as I know the Island is also undergoing a heat wave, I dream of those Ocean breezes wafting through the house, at the end of a hot day.

I miss the feel of the moisture Wind carries from the Ocean on my skin. Here, we have a whole cabinet devoted to creams and lotions for dry skin care and eyes.

Weather is extreme, in the Cariboo. It is cold and sunny and dry in Winter and hot and sunny and dry in Summer.Yet, if one had an unlimited supply of Water, one could grow almost anything here during the Summer...the long days with Sun as a companion help to grow plants to enormous heights and widths, much quicker than on the Coast.

Learning to conserve Water has taught me much...both in how to do it, and then noticing when the plant actually needs it. Nature has helped where I faltered; Leaves on the plants here, even among similar species, are much thicker, glaucous, and in some cases, smaller than those growing in my gardens on the Coast.

Rarely have I seen flowers bloom with such gusto as I have this year, even with far less moisture than I am accustomed to giving.Plants will adapt to conditions presented, if I stay out of the way.

Yes. It is a challenge, living here. A challenge and an opportunity, if I leave myself open to it. There were many inherent fears I have faced, on moving to the Interior...as an insular Island inhabitant for most of my life, I am not sure where boundaries lie, here in this vast Land and endless, blue Skies, fierce Storms and unbelievable Cold.

Learning to face fears always propels me forward upon a path, and if this one appears to be rocky, meandering, with too many tricks upon it...well, it is gratifying to know I am acquiring knowledge from it.

Just as our Lucky is gaining acceptance of his fear of Thunderstorms, I will gain acceptance of my fear of Lightning and Forest Fires.

I will have the opportunity to practice this afternoon, as it appears another Storm is near.

Hot and dry...with Thunder and Lightning present.

Time for the Serenity Prayer.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Garden Fairies

Come.  Come with me for a walk around the garden.

It is early in the morning...if we're really blessed, we might...I say might, now...see one of the Garden Fairies still up, before she lays her head beneath a blossom in perfect slumber for the day.

It is, as yet, a tiny, quiet garden. Here, in the Cariboo, with the dry climate and harsh Winters, I have set out plants which will withstand the dry and the cold...and most of them are not choice, highly bred ones. You know the ones I mean...the plants which require more nurturing, more water, more fertilizer. The ones who fade at the first sign of an Insect...those are the ones I did not choose for my garden.

Instead, I chose Daisies, Foxgloves, Sedums, Poppies, Grasses and tough shrub Roses.  Hollyhocks and Digitalis grow well here. And Birds have helped in the planting...there are many rogue Sunflowers everywhere. Snapdragons, Marigolds and Petunias fill in those bare spots forever there between perennials.

During the last week Thunderstorms were the order of the day. Rain fell in sheets. It was difficult to remember the Dry or the days where I hauled the garden hose from border to border, attempting to give aid to those plants which withered from the heat and the dry, dry soil.

This morning, Sun is out, shining once again upon this small garden, all those Storms a distant memory.

Our walk begins at the seedling bed, which hides the well pipe. This bed is full of Tithonia, Nasturtiums and Sunflowers...none of which are in bloom as yet. But aren't they flourishing! So full and lush...Rain has given this bed a huge boost.

Nate loves to chew on Sunflower leaves.  Last week, I despaired of ever seeing them bloom in this bed...but the amazing amount of Water which fell from the heavy, dark Clouds has revived them. They will grow well now; Nate doesn't bother with the older, bigger leaves.

Let's wander over to the border against the fence line. Poppies leap and bounce with strong, colourful energy in these beds.  They were a little ragged from the Storms; yet even the flowers which were torn by Wind and Rain are picking their heads up off the ground...a little dirty, a wee bit lacerated...but still shining strong orange and yellow.

Do you see this strange plant here which came out of nowhere? This one is a gift from the garden Gods...I don't know how it settled here. It is a wild Strawberry, I gather, and very fragrant. Crush a petal...can you smell Strawberry's intense fragrance?

And now, let's open the gate and meander over to visit Rose. Hasn't she bravely weathered those Storms?  Her petals are strewn here and there...not as pristine as she once was, still her lovely scent lingers strong.

Oh! Did you see? That sudden movement over there must be Lady Rose, a fairy with a delightful countenance! A flash of her loving, gauzy pink is all she awards us with this morning...

But never mind, it is still good luck even to catch a glimpse of a fairy!

Let's carry on, now.  I understand you do not want to leave the area of a fairy sighting; yet she will not return. Searching for a fairy is rarely rewarding...one must pretend not to be interested at all in fairies. The idea is to outwit them, you see...

Mind the Pebbles and Stones on the drive, now...some are loose and could trip you up.Our intention is to finish the driveway with gravel, after all the heavy trucks finish delivering the goods for the woodworking Shop. 

Yesterday, son Scott helped us build a new garden bed by the front door. I couldn't believe the whole bed, Boulders included, was done in a couple of hours. Youth and Strength...it was amazing to watch.

Do you know there's nothing I like better than fashioning a new garden bed? Do you see the borders on the other side of the driveway? I made those beds last year, when I was not really too sure how much Sun they received.  There are plants in those beds which will be moved to the new one...Ferns, Hostas and even some of the Begonias will be moved to the shady side.

There are no longer any  good nurseries open where I might find some plants, so I will transplant from my own garden...and before you know it, the new bed will no longer look so empty.

We're in a construction site now...mind your feet.  Graham built the Shop during his vacation. There were times I had to help hold walls up as the building went up...I won't forget those times easily. I've discovered I'm not a builder.

But isn't it a lovely building!  I will look forward to beautifying it next year, although Graham is not very interested in having it beautified. Petunias don't really do much for him. But he will like it when it's done.

We must now attempt to go down the slope, on the bank behind our house. It is very steep; we need stairs in various spots, but we haven't had the time, as yet. So, take my hand, and follow my steps...

There. Now you can see the beds under the big Trees up close. Do you like the colour combination here?  I'm not too sure about the deep, deep purple Petunias...I think they are too deep for this darker space.  Next year, I will keep this in mind...

But I do love how the old Stump has become such an icon in this spot over here. I have planted Vinca here...I am hoping it will ramble over the old, gnarled Stump.  And the Marigolds...haven't they filled out! In the beginning of the season, they were just stalks with an orange pompom flower on the top. They looked rather rigid and unforgiving. I am glad to see there are many more pompoms now.

Oh and over here! We cleared this area out in the Spring, and left the Wildflowers. It was lovely earlier in the season with all the Lilies that bloomed, but after that hot spell...oh yes, that hot spell! they went to seed...

No. That is not another Fairy...it is a Bumblebee, as big as any I have ever seen. They grow them big around here! I don't believe, as I told you before, that we will see another Fairy this morning. Time is moving on.

From down here, you can see the shrubs I planted on the bank. They mooched about a bit,  some not immediately appreciating the slope they were being planted on. But after the heavy Rains, they've settled in.

Up the other side of the bank, now, and here we are at the Greenhouse.  It is not heated; yet it will give us so much more time at the beginning and end of the season. The Tomato and Cucumber plants look as if they will take over the whole inside space, but each is producing well.

Oh, shhhh!  Look over there! Don't move.  Do you see Lady Parsley grooming herself just over there? Oh, she is so beautiful, with her long, gauzy green robes...and her wings are transparent! Look...I believe she's watching us as well. 

Lady Parsley has visited me in my dreams.  I am very pleased to make her acquaintance again during waking hours!

A blink of an eye, and she's gone.  One must be extremely aware and awake to see Fairies...and we saw two this morning!

Well. We've finished our walk...and now, would you like a cup of Tea? And some scones? They would be good with the Strawberry jam I made last week.

If we sit quietly here in the shade, one never knows who might appear.

A walk, Fairies and then a reviving cup of Tea...what can be better?