Before, during, next

The last time I wore makeup was March 9. It was a Monday. I woke up, showered, got dressed, put on makeup, drove to work.

Two days before work-from-home, the parking lot was already starting to empty. Pre-Covid, during the day there were usually more cars here than parking spots.

I took a photo of the nearly-empty parking lot.

I ate lunch with a colleague, and we agreed that about the last thing either of us would want to do was work from home.

The next day, I did work from home, not because of Covid but because I had a mid-day appointment in the opposite direction from the office and I didn’t feel like driving back and forth.

Then Google announced recommended work from home for nearly everyone in the Bay Area, and that was that.

When I left my office that Monday, I wasn’t thinking about never? not going back for months and months. I left a jar of homemade kefir fermenting in a desk drawer. I left cards from friends and photos from early work trips. I left sentimental notes from colleagues written during team building exercises but no less sincere (I hope) for all that. I left a tiny carved stone elephant. I left stamps. I left a sweater (I think). I left things that would have been useful: pads of sticky notes, an external keyboard, multiple types of USB cables, a mouse.

The change was so abrupt that no one had a chance to plan for it. I was distracted, too, because first my husband and then I got sick (Covid? I don’t know.) I think I caught up with how many people were feeling about a month later. Normal one day, surreal alternate-reality the next – and now it’s been nearly six months. Is it any wonder we’re still reeling?

Now I’m looking ahead and wondering what’s next. On the one hand, planning for a time in the far distant future – Thursday, say – seems incredibly challenging.

On the other hand, these days are the days I get.

I don’t want to accidentally miss them because I wasn’t paying attention.

Smoke

I had the idea that I’d do a lot of gardening this week. I had good stuff planned: weeding, pruning back the takeover rosebush from the path, fixing up the orchard drip irrigation lines, fertilizer on the citrus trees.

But.

This.

There’s smoke on the horizon and if I go outside, I cough. The air smells like a campfire gone wrong. One person I know has evacuated, and another got a warning that didn’t follow through; some others from my poetry group, who I am less in touch with outside our monthly get together, I worry about. I worry about family, too, and the power getting cut, and all the old growth redwoods in Big Basin, and the beautiful buildings that got built the last time things were really bad, back when there was the WPA. I worry about my favorite parks, about the trees and bobcats. I hope, nervously, that the mountain lions are okay.

I worry.

I hope everyone – and although I know it’s impossible, at least as much all the trees – is okay.

Six on Saturday: August 15

I recently discovered a collection of garden bloggers writing Saturday posts about six garden-related things. This week I thought I’d join in.

Today the weather is perfect. It’s ninety degrees in the shade, dry and bright, likely to reach one hundred by midafternoon. Six summery things I’m enjoying in my garden right now:

1 – This Russian Sage. Drought-loving (I haven’t watered it at all! and I think our last rain was in March), pale purple flowers, delicate foliage, looks properly Mediterranean. Last winter I dug it up and moved it back from the edge of the driveway. I didn’t know if this would kill it, but it’s thriving. I’m thinking of planting a few more of these this year. So pretty! And the bees love it.

2 – Isn’t this a neat caterpillar? It’s one of many hanging out on this native Californian flower I’ve forgotten the name of. In spring and early summer these plants are covered in yellow flowers that later turn into fuzzy brown seed pods. I hope this caterpillar is a beneficial insect, doing a little better because it has access to this plant! But if it’s one that most gardeners would consider a pest – well, this part of the yard is pretty much in a ‘see what happens’ state anyway.

3 – My baby nectarine tree, planted from a pit two or three years ago. Will it produce fruit? If it does, will the fruit be as delicious as the parent? No idea. Planting nectarines from seed is apparently hit and miss. But look how healthy it looks!

4 – Apples ripening. So hard not to pick them early!

5 – Visually speaking, the Platonic ideal of garden sweet corn. This makes me happy in a way I can’t reasonably explain. This is the second crop; I planted two. The first is just about finished, so the timing of this is great. I planted this second crop where I’d previously had peas, and its leaves are greener – healthier soil, maybe? I’m curious to see if the flavor varies. This is the first year I’ve planted corn, and in my determination not to harvest too early, I picked the first ear too late! It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. Luckily it didn’t all ripen all at once, and I got better at judging as I went along. I am determined that when this batch is ripe, I will be right there waiting to eat it!

6 – Sungold cherry tomatoes, a consistent favorite since I first grew them six or seven (!) years ago. This batch isn’t quite ripe because I ate all the ripe ones!

Happy gardening to all, and happy summer if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere!

For other garden bloggers’ Six-on-Saturday posts, visit The Propagator, which I in turn discovered by way of herbalblessingsblog.wordpress.com.

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