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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Years ago I walked the Camino Santiago. In the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela at the end, the priest prayed that “now that we no longer have the flechas amarillas, the yellow arrows marking the path, to guide us, we are able to find our way.” 

This week feels like a time when I need that. This week: 

Google extends work from home as coronavirus cases surge

More federal agents dispatched to Portland as protests rise in other cities

In my more specific world, over the past few days I’ve talked to more people socially than I had in the previous few weeks; there are a bunch of incredibly cute baby lizards in the garden, and one larger but also cute rabbit, which so far (fingers crossed!) has not wreaked havoc on the vegetables I’m growing; I have half a flat of nectarines in the kitchen, thanks to the grocery delivery service that I really like; the tomatoes are not yet ripe but look promising. 

And at the same time: It’s hard to know where to go from here. It’s hard to make plans. It’s hard to not make plans. It’s hard to know whether to see friends in person but socially distanced, or not. It’s hard to figure out work (sometimes it’s also just hard to work; for half of yesterday, my video call connections were so flaky that I actually couldn’t do anything). It’s hard to feel so blah and at the same time realize that objectively, there is nothing wrong: I am healthy; the people I love are healthy; I have a job. The house remodel is ongoing, but it is ongoing, and I have a non-leaking roof over my head. I miss the people I miss, and I am very very worried about the wider world, but I in particular am … fine. 

Last week I attended a senior women’s get together, virtual of course, in the hopes of finding a sense of community. I ended up feeling wildly out of place. The things I am angry about were different than what others are angry about. I don’t have kids, and a lot of it was (reasonably enough) about the frustrations of unknown school schedules; I kept thinking that most of the topics would have been relevant to men too, and I wished the men I work with were there. I felt like an alien life form. On the other hand, the management discussion group that I accidentally signed up to lead did feel a bit more community-like, and I am reminding myself that I am optimistic about that. 

There’s a value to having a default plan. Years ago I had insomnia, and I learned that even after very little sleep, I could get a lot done if I already had a plan. So I planned: every day at the end of the work day, I laid out what needed to happen next. The Camino offered something similar: sure, there were interesting detours and side trips I could take, but in general, the path was this way. I could choose to deviate, but the road was known. 

So that’s what I’m thinking about, and what I’m trying to do. The world is uncertain and I don’t know what I’m doing or what’s important. But a while back I laid out projects and priorities. Dates and timelines exist. 

I’m reminding myself: there’s a comfort in having a plan. 

What if this is the new normal?

Something I’d like more of, regardless of the pandemic: the interestingly-named Hooker’s Evening Primrose. It blooms in the morning and is native to California.

Last week a friend told me she’d decided to go ahead with a necessary but non-urgent surgery. She’d been putting it off because of the pandemic – but now? Better not to wait. “Covid is going to be with us for around two years,” she said, as if it were common knowledge. 

I felt as if someone had punched me lightly in the stomach. Two years? 

These past few months I’ve been living moment to moment, day to day or at most week to week. I think that’s true for a lot of us in the US, and no surprise: our country doesn’t have a plan for schools or employment over the next six weeks, let alone two years. 

But when I talk to colleagues or friends outside the country, I realize their perspective is different. From London to Sydney to Paris to Tel Aviv to Tokyo, they seem to be past talking about next month. They are looking further out – and that’s what I was hearing from my non-American, not-US-based friend. 

Two years? We might be lucky if it’s only two years.  

Two years, however, is a manageable amount of time to think about. It’s half of a traditional four-year college, or enough time for a baby to learn to walk. It’s not so much time that it can’t be imagined. 

This leads to the question: 

If things are going to be pretty much like this for two years – and setting aside the unnerving possibilities of (even more) civil or political unrest, syndemics (a word I just learned, which does not bode well), global warming, and widespread recession and unemployment – a lot to set aside, I know, but bear with me – 

If life is going to be like this for two years, what do I want to be true at the end of that? How do I want to be? What do I want to have done? Where do I want to focus? 

And is it better to think in those terms, or go back to day-to-day? 

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