July blessed us with unusually cool weather...temps hovering in the mid to upper 80's rather than the expected 10 degrees warmer.
That it was also dry made for comfort--but brought us perilously close to drought conditions.
This weather pattern changed during the first week of August--heat and humidity have since prevailed.
Jim's photo above was taken one morning at sunrise--you can see the shimmer of heat against the trees which border Big Creek.
The nandina along the front of the house was killed nearly to the ground by the harsh cold of January.
I loped it back and hoped for the best.
The shrubs all rallied, putting forth lush new growth.
Here one bush shows a single branch of shiny red leaves.
Finally the rain moved in, beginning with showers on Thursday evening.
The sky grew steely dark, pewter clouds billowed, the wind came up.
It seemed that the over night rain hadn't been enough to deal with browned lawns and drooping gardens.
By Friday night the rains had settled in for a real soaking.
Rain fell in pounding wind-driven gusts.
Tired grass began to green, leaves trembled with their burden of water.
By Sunday there were puddles!
Throughout this spell of rainy weather we continued our treks to the garden at the other house, squelching in mud that clung to our boots, getting drenched by sudden fierce showers as we labored to pick corn and green beans, to rescue ripe cantaloupes from the tangle of sodden vines.
The air was heavy, indoors and out--to step outside was to feel that one had been wrapped in a smotheringly hot, wet blanket.
The carport entry and kitchen took on the look of a produce market--baskets, buckets and boxes overflowing with bounty that must be dealt with while in prime condition.
Ranks of filled canning jars--green beans, tomatoes--crowded the table awaiting transport to the basement shelves of the 'other house.'
I find this sort of weather draining.
I am grateful for the A/C which makes the house a refuge after working outside in the thick humidity, thankful for the ceiling fan which whirs in the next room as I stand over a kettle of simmering tomatoes.
As we ate supper on Monday the heavens were rent by lightning, thunder slammed and rattled, rain was loosed in pounding torrents.
When the deluge slackened we headed for the garden, driving through a gloom of green.
We gathered melons, Jim picked sweet corn, I bent over the bean bushes, plucking the best of them.
Jim tucked green peppers, okra, tomatoes glistening with wet, into the containers he was stacking in the wheel barrow. He dug carrots and potatoes.
Still I picked beans in the twilight, seeing them now as dark dangling shapes rather then green.
At home Jim dragged the hose around and in the glow of the yard light sluiced the clinging earth from the vegetables.
Feeling damp, tired and a bit cantankerous, I headed into the basement to store the sweet corn
where it is cooler.
To my dismay I noticed water oozing under the door to the back cellar entry--a not uncommon happening when rain comes down in a furious deluge.
The drain outside the door at the foot of the bulkhead steps clogs easily--and I hadn't thought to check it.
Jim had already removed his wet shoes and settled in front of the TV.
I was still clomping about in my wellies so decided I was elected to do at least a preliminary examination of the offending drain.
I bailed muddy water into the mop bucket---lugged two buckets full up the steps and spilled the water down the driveway.
I scooped up a bloated and unsightly dead mouse---a 'gift' which I had noted and neglected to deal with earlier in the day.
Removing the drain cover, I cautiously plunged my hand within, meeting with silt and wet leaves.
At this point I stumped upstairs and demanded help!
Jim resignedly stuck his feet into dry shoes, collected the plunger. When this proved ineffective, he poked the hose into the drain and ran water until it gave a 'glug' and began to make its way underground to the outlet on the far edge of the front lawn.
There is an inside drain as well, so I fetched an old broom and began coaxing the invasive water in that direction.
I was wet, tired, and grubby--and felt quite ill-used!
A quick shower, a fresh nightgown and a session in my rocking chair, with a book, restored my sanity.
Tuesday dawned with sunshine and a drop in both temperature and humidity.
Still very much 'summer' but bearable once again.
I eyed the buckets of tomatoes with a jaundiced eye, tidied the bedroom and leaving the kitchen to fend for itself, decided to tend the long-overdue transplanting of the herb seedlings languishing on the front porch.
I mixed potting soil, sand and perlite, dragged out a motley assortment of pots.
I lost some of my rosemary seedlings to neglect earlier in the season--when our days were spent refurbishing the other house.
I now have 15 sturdy transplants in various stages of growth. All are exhibiting the prostrate habit of the parent plant which succumbed to a February frost.
I still regret my carelessness, forgetting to bring that cherished large rosemary inside on a particularly cold night. It had flowered profusely and from those tiny blue blossoms I have this wealth of seedlings.
[What I may do with 15 rosemarys, I have yet to determine!]
Four of the biggest rosemarys in their new pots.
Gina came up trumps with pots she gleaned from a yard sale.
I started thyme by the simple expedient of dumping a whole packet of the tiny seeds onto the soil mix in a smallish pot. I think every one germinated. They have been over-hanging the pot for several weeks, crying for attention. When I have bought thyme plants I noted they are usually poked into the sales 'cubes' in wiry clusters of three or four. The stems are so thin that I decided on this method. I expect that I will lose a few, but there will likely be more than I need--to plant at the edge of an herb garden which at present exists only in my dreams!
Lavender also was bursting from small '4-packs' and a collection of flimsy plastic pots.
[Can you tell we recycle every possible nursery container?]
I ended with 15 rosemarys, 10 lavenders, and a gaggle of potted thyme which I did not count.
I tided away buckets of soil, rearranged geraniums and begonias; shook out the damp rug at the edge of the porch, bundled the throw on the wicker loveseat downstairs to the wash.
I swept and tweaked, stood back to admire the tidy porch.
I nibbled a cherry tomato or two as a reward for my labors,
and set off with spade and pots to rescue several Therese Bugnet roses which have popped up in the path of the lawn mower, running out from the parent plant.
It was noon and the sun was hot.
I dug up two of the rose babies and was carrying them to the shelter of the carport when I heard
the phone shrilling.
I ducked into the house, snatched the receiver with a muddy paw.
The caller identified himself as an assistant to our real estate agent.
He had received a request for a viewing of our property 'in about 2 hours!'
A realtor from a firm in the next county had been asked to view on behalf of an out of state client who had seen our listing.
I managed not to squawk in dismay!
With a bit less than my usual coherence I spluttered that the kitchen was a mad jumble of garden produce
and the carport lined with a clutter of containers holding yet more veggies waiting their turn for attention.
The young man was soothing, assuring me that everyone's kitchen looked the same in August.
"Do you want to postpone the viewing?"
I collected myself, managed to sound coherent.
'No," I replied, with what I hoped was a tone of calm optimism.
" I doubt I can have the house as tidy as I like for a showing, but if you will warn your client of that, I'll do my best to have it presentable."
I hung up and stared for a long moment at the messy kitchen, mentally assessing what needed done in the rest of the house.
I decided to phone Jim at work and let him know that someone was coming.
He was on his noon break.
"Do you want me to come home and help?"
I left that decision for him to make, and tackled the mounds of produce.
I had assembled the various containers more neatly in the carport and was wiping down kitchen counters when Jim arrived.
[He has for the past three weeks been assisting a friend who has a backlog of tractors to repair.]
He had managed to bush-hog the tall grass of the front field between showers on Sunday.
Now he roared about mowing the lawn.
I bundled things away in rather desperate haste: an over-flowing pile of papers crammed into a buffet drawer; a tipple of books by my rocking chair quickly straightened; bathroom floor and fixtures quickly swabbed. I raced downstairs and stuffed a load of laundry into the washer, giving thanks that I had dealt with cat litter boxes early in the day.
I flicked a clean checked cloth over the dining table, set the small vase of rosebuds in the center.
Jim wielded a broom through the kitchen and hallway, then descended to do the same in the now seldom used downstairs room.
I pegged out the wash, scurried about hiding away small oddments.
I dared not risk a shower on borrowed time, so settled for washing my face, brushing my hair and whipping on a clean shirt.
We surveyed the house, decided it would pass muster [as long as no one opened drawers!] went outside to admire the tidy front porch and gloat over the newly trimmed green lawns.
I made a pitcher of iced tea--and we sat down to wait.
We had begun to think that our efforts had been for naught [this has happened before!]
when a smart Mercedes coupe stopped in the lower drive.
A man emerged, pointed a camera at the front of the house, then drove slowly up.
He shook hands, gave us his business card, explained that he was viewing several properties in the area for his out of state clients--who wanted a retirement 'hobby farm' in a warmer climate than their native Minnesota.
He was a personable fellow who trekked eagerly up the path to exclaim over the lofty structure of the barns, the beauty of the surrounding quiet fields.
When he came inside the cats all decided they liked him and formed a bustling escort as we went from room to room.
The realtor spent perhaps 45 minutes with us; he was gracious and complimentary.
A showing that goes well does not, of course, guarantee a sale!
We have learned from past transactions that a potential buyer usually makes contact in less than a week.
We have done our part---the timing of an eventual sale is not in our hands.
We looked about after the realtor's departure, noting with satisfaction that the place looked both
tidy and homey.
I felt suddenly tired and rather unwilling to immediately disrupt the clean kitchen by making supper.
Our buckets of produce not-with-standing, we decided to go out to eat!
It has been a long--and productive--day.
Tomorrow Jim will return to work at the tractor shop.
I will deal with the buckets of tomatoes.
I will likely trek over to the garden to haul home yet more produce!