Sunday, June 25, 2006
The other morning, me to T: "If it weren't for me, you wouldn't have any flowers at all." "That's right," he said. I spent the morning as I do now every morning, outside. I harvested a lot of lettuce, not all, but a lot of it. Spent all day digging another vegetable bed, double-digging, the hard way. I was going transplant all the wee volunteers scattered about: a watermelon, a couple of tomatoes, lots more seed. My son asks, a bit too sarcastically: "Every summer you spend all this time putting in a garden and doesn't something always go wrong?" Yes. A a freak summer snowstorm comes and freezes everything on the vine. A drought means I can only water a tiny bit on alternate days. Hail. "Yes. I say. Every year. Watch, this year, everything'll get wiped out by hail." We laughed. He knows I like that sort of thing. Nature's ironic moments. Sometimes you just gotta laugh. I spent hours weeding, dead-heading, admiring. I've got this rainbow thing happening -- a "blue room" with blue and purple flowers around a small patch of lawn, a low rock wall around the apple with a slab for sitting behind the tree, the way I like it, "where I can look out and nobody can see in." I had just transplanted blackberry volunteers in the corner to discourage the dog from cornering squirrels there. Then it goes around the yard: purple, lavender datura plants, blood red chrysanthemums, red bee balm, poppies, orange, yellow, a white datura ready to open in the center, a new silver lace vine on the trellis T's been building and placing around the yard. Not much white or yellow, some alien looking bromeliads, new sunflowers, white and yellow flowers being my least favorite, but I was getting ready to put in some seeds. The purple bean plants growing way high and full, I was to get around to weeding there at sunset, and putting up a nice fence for my bean wall around my little "blue room", my little haven where I fancied I'd write the novel in the dog-days. I had just finished weeks of hard work taking down my bamboo reed fence around the yard, for "privacy" but you have to say that like an Englishman to say it the way I do -- sounds more private that way, and goofy. Many of the sections were torn and shredded from our other dog; weathered. I turned it inside out, patched it, wove it. I had just finished. We had just finished pouring cement for the first fence post in a dog run to keep the dog doo out of the beds. It looked good. Strong, deep and a straight. I leveled off and smoothed over the concrete, thinking of grandma. And, looked up. Big black clouds in the north, hot blue clear sky in the east. Hmmmm. We start gathering things as a sprinkle hits; shovels, rakes, gloves. I get some plastic bags and cover the cemented post, just in case. T says, "For when it rains -- not that it ever rains much." I had just set the rocks on the black plastic. And had come inside, taking my newspaper, and a few other things. T goes up to shower. It's time to start dinner. The wind is picking up, knocking the blind against the houseplants, so I start to close it just as it hits. Chunks of ice the size of my fist start to fall, slowly, like someone tossing 'em out the refrigerator for a joke. Then I hear it, loud rocks on the roof, on the metal patio, the car in the driveway. Everywhere at once. "So this is golf-ball sized hail," I remember thinking. Except that it's not, it's fist-sized, deadly. The noise is deafening. I can't back away from the window, though I know I should. My son comes running over from the news report -- "Get away from the window!" and "Brucie!" The dog is still outside. I go in the back where fist-sized hail is still gouging big divots out the lawn, exploding climber sticks as they hit. The dog is not on the porch. We can't find him, he's outside somewhere and won't come to the call -- if he can ever hear it over the pounding. We think he might be dead, battered and bleeding somewhere where we can't see him as we're both afraid to go out from the porch. Lots of thunder and lightening. Finally he slinks out from the exposed place in the back where he's been hiding. He slinks along the side, under the roof overhang -- smart dog. He's soaking wet. We bring him in, much relieved, and he runs into his "bedroom", the extra downstairs bathroom. I go back upstairs. My son tells me the window in my office is open, my papers are strewn, wet -- my old computer is wet in the back. Oops. Major. I wipe it off as best I can. I still can't look. I go to the bedroom and start video-taping. The smell of broken trees and foliage is pungent. I smell cedar and spruce. Outside looks like November snow. I'm getting close-ups of T's car, case of insurance, the neighbor's roof in case my own is damaged, trees. A new truck is parked under my neighbor's giant sycamore, afraid to move. The baseballs have turned into golf-balls and gumballs, but harder and more of them. Then a sheet of water. Literally, like, yes, pails and pails emptying on our heads. I shut off the camera and go outside. MY GARDEN! The patio roof is leaking. The dog's sheepskin bed (which he adores, he's a rescued stray from Mexico -- I can't tell you how much he adores that bed) is soaked. The patio is small swimming pool, so is the lawn -- and I think to myself, I had just watered before coming inside. A section of my fence has been hit by hail and is now stripping off in the rain and wind and falling onto my blue plants. The water is up to almost 5 inches. T comes out of the shower and starts shoveling and sweeping water. Lettuce, beans, gone. My rainbow, vanished. A few snaky "red hot pokers" stand, but some look like Russian royalty: "Off with their heads!" My son and I laugh. Sometime, you just gotta laugh. $300 in new perennials this year, but I'm laughing. All the neighbor kids are outside with bicycle helmets on, playing in the new "snow". My son saves a big hailstone in the freezer. I get out the staple gun which is soaked along with the tablecloth, the staples and our left-over breakfast things, and tack up the fence in the rain. The temperature has plummeted almost forty degrees in five minutes for all the surrounding ice. Weird thing is, I knew. I had free tickets to an outdoor jazz concert that day -- "Nope," I say, "It will probably hail." There is almost no shelter at the venue. So I pick almost all the lettuce that morning. Today, there's nothing left but mud. But most things, the things I love, are still there. Like me, battered but hanging in there. And, laughing.