Be Cool

Ha, ha, ha, how stupidly prescient I am.   Three weeks ago in this space, I wrote that bicycling is easy on the joints (until I crash).  Friday, I crashed.  Broke my right wrist.  It’s my seventh (I think), most minor (I’m sure) broken bone and my third broken wrist from bike crashes (the first two were on the left).

This, however, is not about inept cycling; it’s about the weather, as I promised myself in January.  Having a cast on one’s arm in 90-degree heat is no fun.  No swimming, no bicycling.

Other than that, it’s still hot.  We have no air conditioning in the house, just three fans, one of which burned out its motor Tuesday from overuse.  I’m going to try to take it apart and fix it, but I’m only a fair mechanic when I have two hands.  (Typing is also a chore.)

It’s been dry, too.  The occasional rainstorm deluges us, but it’s been constant watering that keeps the gardens alive.  The grapes in my arbor (now reinforced with steel posts) are ripening, the honey supers are heavy (too heavy to lift with a broken arm). Like so many other plants, goldenrod is early this year.  Aside from the melancholy portent of autumn goldenrod brings, its pollen smells like old socks and its arrival marks the end of honey season.

The one Cortland apple that made it through the spring cold snap fell prey to squirrels.  The plums are hardy and plenty and covered with mesh to prevent the same fate.  Same was true for the blueberries, but they’ve now all been eaten.  Blight is showing on the tomato plants, but if one is as attentive to trimming it away it as Adrienne is, that battle can be fought for some time.  Daylilies, which are everywhere in Vermont, came and went in record time this year, done in by heat and lack of moisture.

The summer’s scandal is that compost from the Chittenden Solid Waste District – which was supposed to be organic – was contaminated with two persistent broadleaf pesticides – Clopyralid and Picloram.  Gardens blossomed, then wilted.  Gardeners were outraged.

While both pesticides are legal, one needs to register with the state Ag Department to use Picloram in Vermont, something no one has done for three years.  Investigation by the solid waste district shows the pesticides came to the composting facility on grass clippings and in horse bedding and manure.  Seems someone in the horsey set has been naughty and even though both candidates in a hotly-contested race for state attorney general have jurisdiction to launch a probe into who is illegally using pesticides and victimizing hundreds of his or her fellow citizens, we hear nothing but crickets.  Vermont may be some people’s version of a socialist state, but it still doesn’t pay to mess with the rich folks when you’re trying to get elected (or re-elected).  Instead, taxpayers will pay, as always.  Damages are estimated to be close to a million dollars.

We were spared, as we make our own compost.  There was a time when I was the chief composter (still am, if toting it out to the heap or turning the pile counts), but Adrienne fusses over it constantly, making layers of various materials and setting “pre-compost” piles in strategic locations about the property, telling me what to put where when.

Ah, but the weather.  The lake is low, the water crystal clear.  I treated myself to a knee-deep wade Tuesday evening and delighted in the rippled sand at my feet and the play of the light on the surface.  I heard the first crickets of the year at dusk on July 10th as I rode my bike and the first locusts drone on the 14th as I swam in a pond up near the Canadian border.  At least I have those memories.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall through the end of October.  Although it’s hot now, the thermometer dipped into the 70s for a few days last week and pleasant as it was, there’s a certain ambivalence in the north when a hot spell ends.  Something deep inside says, “This is it. Summer’s beginning to wane.”  Then it got hot again.  We’ll probably run through this cycle another three times, the new normal.  Be cool.

© Mark Floegel, 2012

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