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

Preparing to Plant

I hadn’t planned on working outside this morning, but it was cool enough that I thought I should continue preparing the soil for when my tulip bulbs arrive. (One company said they will send them this month; the other company said they will send them next month.)

As it turned out, although it was below eighty degrees Fahrenheit when I was out, the humidity hovered around 60%. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re used to humidity in the low teens, it’s a lot. And humidity, even more than high heat, makes me perspire.

I always thought it a silly cliché when movies show a bead of sweat dripping from the end of a character’s nose to indicate nervousness. After this morning, I know for a fact that sweat can drip off the end of a person’s nose, though in my case, it had nothing to do with a case of nerves but because of too much exertion in too much heat and humidity. Normally, I’d swipe an arm across my face to get rid of any unsightliness, but I’d sprayed my gardening clothes with permethrin to protect me from mosquitoes, and though the bug spray is supposed to be non-toxic to humans, I certainly don’t want it anywhere near my face.

So I dripped.

I desperately needed a shower when I was finished, but since a worker was here to lay rock around the house, I hesitated. There’s something about taking a shower when strangers are working close to the house that makes me nervous. I’m sure none of them ever stop to think, “The shower is running, so the woman is nekkid,” but still, prudence makes me hesitate.

Luckily, the worker went home to take a break, so I got my shower.

Unluckily, he never came back.

It just goes to show that I can only count on myself to get anything done, but since I’m not foolish enough or young enough or strong enough to lay the rock, I have to wait for people to come and stay long enough to do the work. I just wish they’d let me know what’s going on. I presumed he was coming back because he left tools out and the gates open, but who knows.

I’m just glad I got my tulip bed ready, so at least something was accomplished today.


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?

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