The Day Before Summer

Today was my day for watering the garden and since I had to go to work mid morning, I went outside fairly early to take care of my gardening responsibility. And eek. By 8:00 o’clock, it was 80 degrees with 80 percent humidity, and 80 parts fleas and mosquitos.

We generally have low humidity here, which makes the days of high humidity an especial affront. And the mosquitoes . . . they must be new to the area because they didn’t get the message that mosquito repellants were supposed to repel them. Still, I got through the task, though it was an effort, not just because of all the annoyances but because of the toll the high heat and searing sun and no rain is taking on my yard. Many of my poor plants are desiccating; I have brown stalks where once the larkspur held pride of place; and too much dying grass and invading weeds are making my various garden patches unsightly. It’s simply been too hot to spend much time outside cleaning out the beds.

Even worse, a few baby bushes look as if they’re giving up. Not that I blame them. Except for trying to keep the plants alive and doing whatever non-gardening jobs I need to do, I too have more or less given up. And it won’t even be summer here until 9:31 tomorrow night. I can’t imagine another three months of this heat, though I suppose I will make an accommodation with the weather as I have done with every other obstacle in my life.

Just not today.

I couldn’t bear to be outside even long enough to take a photo of the few flowers that are so bravely blooming. The cactus flower that accompanies this article was taken yesterday as I left the house to go to work. It’s gone today, and there will be no more pretty yellow blossoms to mask the vicious prickles on the plants.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Out on the Prairie

People who aren’t familiar with the diverse areas and ecosystems in Colorado are always surprised by how hot it can get. Admittedly, it’s cooler in the mountains, but out here on the prairie, a hundred miles from those chillier climes, it can get hot. No, not a lower case “hot,” but HOT!! Capital letters all the way. Today we will get in excess of 105 degrees, though at the moment, it’s rather pleasant. At least for me.

I have to work longer hours today, so I didn’t plan on doing any outside chores. I went out thinking to walk around and check on my various garden spots. Some plants seem to thrive in the desiccating heat, but others, even supposed sun-lovers, don’t like as much direct sun as they’ve been getting. We’re not as high as Denver out here, but we’re high enough to be considered high altitude, and with altitude comes searing heat. (Shade generally mitigates the heat, but with the shade comes stinging insects, so it’s a trade-off for me.) It’s because I don’t want to be seared by the sun that I wear long sleeves even on the hottest days — oddly, though it might look ridiculous, it’s also cooler because it gives protection from the sear. And, of course, it’s why I wear hats. I certainly don’t need to char what brains I still have.

All of this to say that although I wasn’t planning on spending any time outside, I had to water some of the plants that weren’t doing well in the heat. And because I wasn’t planning on being out long, I didn’t wear my permethrined gardening clothes, but instead I wore my go-to-work black pants and t-shirt, so I expect to be covered in mosquito bites tomorrow. But it’s worth it, I suppose, to keep my plants alive.

Although many plants are supposed to need full sun, I’ve noticed that even that flora does well with a bit of shade, though there are some that do well regardless.

Among the plants that seem unfazed by the heat are the hollyhocks

And moss roses.

I’d never heard of moss roses (portulaca grandiflora) before this spring, but I am enjoying the various colors of blooms that come from one plant. It’s an annual that supposedly seeds itself and can become invasive, which sounds good to me — a carpet of flowers would be nice. For now, I’m counting blooms in the low numbers, but later on in the summer, they might do even better.

Other plants that seem to enjoy the heat are my cherry tomatoes and marigolds.

And the cactus, of course. The only problem with the cactus is that they have so few flowers, and each perfect blossom blooms for a single day. Which teaches us, I suppose, to enjoy the ephemeral things while they are here.

As for me and the heat? All I can say is thank heavens (and Willis Haviland Carrier) for air conditioning!


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

A Life That Ambles

I haven’t been walking in the desert lately. I’ve been mostly wearing myself out packing, and when I do walk, I’m going to or from dance class on city streets.


Cities have their advantages.

Where I used to live in rural Colorado, there wasn’t much in the way of amenities, except things for cattle and horses, like alfalfa fields.


So I enjoy the lovely and whimsical sights that cities offer.


Class was cancelled today, and since there is little heavy work to be done to sap my strength, I took myself out to the desert.


Walking in those barren, path-strewn hills, I was reminded of my life — lots of paths going nowhere, somewhere, anywhere. The straight path to . . .  wherever . . . is there, but it eludes me. I am left to clamber around the expanse, not knowing if there is a pattern to my life, not knowing if I am going anywhere in particular, not knowing much at all, if the truth be known.

And yet, hidden in the barren expanse are magical vistas,


colorful gems,

cactus flower

and lovely surprises.

natural rock garden

There is a lot to be said for a life that ambles — literally and metaphorically — without a set destination. Such a life might not afford the luxuries that money provides, but oh, the benefits to such a life are beauty and joy.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.