Wishes on the Wind

I didn’t know there was such a problem with wildfires in the towns of Boulder County in Colorado until I started getting messages from people online asking if I’m okay. Luckily, I am two-hundred miles from the fire zone. The only problem I foresee is that my house insurance will skyrocket again as it did last year in response to wildfires in other parts of Colorado, which seems unfair. Our rates here in my corner of Colorado are among the highest in Colorado and across the nation, and yet when anything happens in areas where people don’t have high premiums, my rate goes up too. In fact, the increase is in proportion to what I am already paying, so that means I end up paying more than my share. I guess I should be grateful — and I am — that I’m not one of those whose house has been destroyed, but if my insurance goes up much higher, I won’t be able to afford the dubious protection.

Other than learning about the fires, it was a good day. There have been high winds, of course, bringing in frigid temperatures and maybe even some snow for tonight. They are forecasting one to three inches, though I will be surprised if we get any moisture. Still, I took a chance on their being right about the possibility of snow and planted my wildflower seeds. I stamped them into the ground as best as I could to make sure that they don’t all get blown away. I do have more seeds, so can replant if nothing comes up next spring. Comes up in my yard, I mean. With the wind, there’s a possibility that my seeds are being planted all over the neighborhood.

I’m taking it as a good omen, though, that I planted the seeds on the last day of this year — the seeds of a new beginning as well as a way of perhaps bringing the best of this year into next year.

I’m hoping that the cold and snow will cut down the noise of tonight’s revelers with their firecrackers. If not, then I hope I’ll be able to sleep through the midnight commotion, but if I’m awake, I will think of you and send out wishes on the wind that next year will be your best ever.


Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Lazy Days

Yesterday was a lazy day for me. The winds were so strong, I barely made it to my mailbox. There was no way I could water the grass or take a walk or any other outside activity. And because of those gale force winds, I was too unsettled to do much of anything, so I spent the day reading and playing games on the computer.

Gale force winds is not a figure of speech. Gale force is 34 to 40 miles per hour, and I’m sure the winds were at least that strong. In a nearby town, the wind was clocked at 107 mph, though luckily, we were well below that number. Still, the winds wreaked a considerable amount of damage, so today was anything but a lazy day.

When I went out to water my grass, I was shocked to see the lawn covered with leaves. I have no idea where all those leaves came from because I made sure that there were no leaves on the nearby trees when I did my final raking — or rather, what I thought was my final raking. Before I turned on my hoses, I had to rake up all those leaves. It was so not a job I was prepared to do, yet I did it. I also had to gather shingles that had rained in my yard from the roof of my neighbor’s garage, and I’ll probably have more to do tomorrow since I only dealt with the largest pieces today.

I should be grateful (and I am!) that those were the only two problems I had from the wind. Other people spent the day clearing out the downed tree branches and getting estimates from roofers. I had to call someone, too, though not for me. A neighbor of the people whose house I am looking after called someone who called someone who called someone who called me to tell me that shingles had blown off the roof. (Come to think of it, next time I see that neighbor, I should give her my phone number so she could call me directly.) So I called my contractor who went out to take a look at the damage.

If that wasn’t enough for one day, I still had to go to the library to return books that were due and to get gas for my car. Now that inclement weather is popping up, I don’t like my tank to get too low in case of emergencies. Nor do I like the idea of running out of books to read. I’m sure I did a few other chores, though I can’t think of any offhand. Not that it matters — what’s done is done, right? (Obviously not, or I wouldn’t be sitting here listing all the things I did today.)

Considering the dryness and the winds, I’m glad I haven’t yet planted my wildflower seeds — they would have ended up all over the neighborhood and come spring, I’d have wondered why I didn’t get a single flower out of the bunch. I’ve been waiting for the first snow before planting, which helps glue the seeds to the ground, but I might have to make alternate plans, such as waiting for a week when the highs are only in the forties, and those weeks are coming. Around here, so I’ve been told, February is the coldest month, and this area is noted for its late snows. Besides, I’ve had enough to do without worrying about those seeds.

Tomorrow might be another lazy day, and if not tomorrow, then Saturday. The best I can say about the weekend forecast is brrrrr.


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.

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Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Yesterday was an errand day. A friend and I went to a nearby town to shop for necessities, and since plants are one of my necessities, I bought a chrysanthemum. I stuck the pot in a hanging planter, and will enjoy the color until it’s gone, then I’ll put it in the ground.

Today was a digging day. No, “digging” is not a new euphemism for “great,” like a shortened version of “hot diggity dog.” Nor is it a euphemism for a terrible day, like wanting to dig a hole to hide in.

A digging day is merely a day for digging. But then, you knew that.

I spent some time digging in my future micro meadow, though with as little as I am able to dig each day, and considering how long it will take me to dig up all the old Bermuda grass and weeds, it’s beginning to seem like an macro meadow of vast acreage instead of a mere 200 square feet or so.

I also took time out to winterize my greengage plum tree by making a dirt barrier around it and filling it with mulch. I did the same thing for the tree that died back. It was supposed to be a six-foot tree, but all that survived the winter was one tiny branch right above the graft site. I cut off the tree above that branch, and it’s grown a bit. Maybe it will continue growing. If not, well, I have a replacement on the way. Luckily, they won’t be sending the new tree until the end of winter instead of the beginning as they did last year, so it should be able to settle in before it has to deal with the cold and snow.

The most exciting thing I did today was count my wildflower seeds. Well, a quarter teaspoonful of them anyway. The directions say to plant a maximum of 75 to 150 seeds per square foot depending on soil conditions and how colorful of a meadow is desired. I dreaded doing the small chore, imagining seeds all over my kitchen, but in the end, it was easy. I laid out a white piece of cardboard, sprinkled on a quarter teaspoonful of seeds, and then moved them around with the tip of a small knife. In case you’re curious, there are 100 seeds in a quarter of a teaspoonful.

Tomorrow is a car day. The mechanic seems to be well again, so we’re going to try once again to get the brakes fixed. If for some reason he isn’t there, or if he doesn’t feel up to doing the work, I’ll turn around and come home. It’s not as if it hasn’t happened before, though one of these days, the work will be done. That would be a surprise for sure!

And the day after that? It will be a work day, but anything beyond the scope of yesterday, today, and tomorrow is too far away to even think about.


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

Planting Hope

Today is the first really cool day we’ve had for months, cool enough to make me realize that fall really is coming. When the outside temperature is in the nineties (Fahrenheit), it’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end, so it seems rather silly to be preparing the ground for fall planting. We’ll be getting back into the nineties, at least for a few days now and again, but I am beginning to feel a bit of urgency.

The season really is changing. And if fall is coming (five more days!), that means winter is only three months away.

It will be strange, after all this time of working outside, to have a hiatus in the winter, but it will be good to give my poor old knees a rest. I’m just hoping they will hold up for all the planting I’m going to be doing this fall — a few magnus echinacea (a purplish pink coneflower), a bunch of lily trees (despite the name, they are not trees, just very tall lilies), a couple of hundred tulip bulbs, and a pound of wildflowers. I also need to transplant the New England asters because the clump is getting rather dense.

If I can’t get the wildflower area completely dug up and the old Bermuda grass roots removed, I’ll just hoe what’s left and hope for the best, but there’s no way to cut corners on the rest of the planting.

So much work! In the long run, I hope it will be worth it — I would certainly enjoy a beautiful yard. Mostly, though, it’s the doing, not necessarily the done, that intrigues me. And the not giving up.

Previously, whenever I started a garden of some sort and the plants didn’t do well, I shrugged it off as my not having a green thumb. (Which I don’t have, but I’m hoping that experience and research and luck will offset my lack of native ability.)

The last time I planted anything, the failure truly wasn’t my fault. The grasshoppers were voracious that year and they ate everything down to the ground — including a six-foot tree. Because of that, I now panic whenever I see one of those hideous brown hoppers, but so far, they are keeping their destruction to a minimum. If they get too bad, I might borrow the neighbor’s chickens and let them feast, though some of the hoppers seem almost as big as those chickens, so I’m not sure he’d want to take the risk.

Looking at what I’ve written today, I can see that I’ve used a whole lot of words to say what I came here to say: that the cooler temperature is a harbinger of the fall that will show up next week.

I’m not really sad to see gardening season end, nor am I glad. It’s all part of the cycle of life. And after the fall preparation and the winter hiatus, spring will come and all the hope I’ve been planting might come to fruition.


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