Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dizzy Heat

It is August and in Florida it has been mandatory my whole life that if you talk to someone in July, August or September  you must mention the heat.  I woke to temperatures near the 80s, by noon it was close to triple digits, then a storm front blew through.  It was not a large defined front, but a tattered and torn front that missed more places then it offered rain.  It dropped the temperature at least 10 degrees.  But the humidity rose faster then the temperatures went down and there at the end I could barely breath.  

I am not talking about Stage 4 Lung Cancer can't breath, I mean normal everyday Floridian trying to breath planet sweat.  And today every step was worse then walking through any locker room.  

Sweat filled the air and in the shade house this afternoon as I filled my pots with hydrangea and mum cuttings, it was hard to see through all the dripping  Yet the heat is so intense that even with all the moisture in the air, that moisture is from the temperatures literally dehydrating everything in this part of the world.  I pulled weeds this morning and within 15 minutes of laying in the grass the chickens didn't even want them.  I have now cleared a small but significant portion of my big perennial bed.  Where the spring and early summer iris, day lily and Asiatic lilies have dried up storing energy in their tubers and bulbs leaving open space for the planting of mums for fall and winter gardens.  I have propagated lots of mums, and have another flat started today, so I hope to fill that open space with mums of all different shapes, sizes and colors.  And then I can also slip a few more spring bulbs in later this fall so next spring I will have a garden full of color that will then last through the late fall because the mums come back each summer.  

As much as I love gardening, propagating plants and then planting them into a garden is 300% joy.  I get 100% joy from the planing the gardens, 200% growing them, and 300% from the flowers and "fruits of my labor".  I will have cut flowers this fall and winter for the house.  There is so much to do to get my gardens back in shape.  Loving, nurturing, cajoling, manipulating the environment around me, gardening.  I have always wanted to make a shirt that says, "I love to weed, therefor I garden"  

And working in my glass house in the winter and my shade house in the summer brings me joy that soothes my soul, even through the thick sweaty air.  When I lived on Pine Island.  The north end of the island in the village of Bokeelia.  The little village that I won the honor to be the honorary mayor of Bokeelia 1999 - 2001 because I sold the most amount of 25 cent beers for charity.  

Anyway, after August 13, 2004 when Hurricane Charlie crossed over the village I shared with so many dear people, I lost my little green house.  This was the first greenhouse I had ever had and Larry had made it completely out of recycle material so the lower walls were aluminum sidings, parts of the walls were plastic and the roof and rest of the sides were screen.  It had a U shaped table and moved hundreds of flats of butterfly plants through there each year.  Some of the plants I grew from seed, others from cuttings, I just couldn't help myself, I could not let a seed go un-planted.  A plant needing trimming with the branches turned into cuttings.  I filled my yard with layers and layers of plantings.  It never froze there and the climate was subtropical to tropical, and I had thousands of plants on those 2 lots......before Hurricane Charlie.   Then after Charlie life changed for all of us.  It affected everyone of us, still to this day.  Those that are still alive.  And Larry built my second greenhouse.  The Cathedral.  It was 2 stories high and the walls were completely made with hardware cloth.  The biggest problems I had with seeds, especially palm seeds were squirrels.  The hardware cloth did double duty casting a lovely amount of shade, and besides keeping the squirrels out, it would survive a hurricane, oh yes it would.  After Hurricane Charlie, everything we built after that storm was strong enough to take 168 mph winds.  We knew that kind of  wind was possible after Charlie.  

This was a year after a friend of mine who is a musician with her husband, Joe, had her cello destroyed on a trip to Germany.  Hannah called Joe from the airport and he was there for her, but he was back home and was not able to reach out and grab her to hold her in this most difficult times any musician, parent or pet owner can understand when a faithful friend is taken with no warning.  But what Joe could do was write Hannah a song, In My Cathedral.  Hannah had gone to Germany and England and was playing in several cathedrals and she was able to borrow a beautiful instrument while she was there to meet her engagements.  And it was a joy and a relief to be able to play such a special instrument in the glorious space of a cathedral.  While you mourn the loss of your own instrument.  

Here is a link to Joe and Hannah's music, Acoustic Eidolon

When I moved here I got a poly fiber glass house to have a place to put my pots of plants that can not take the cold of north Florida.  Then Larry built me my last shade house out of 90% recycled materials.  Today I was so happy working away making the cuttings, slipping them into the moist soil.  Soil that will hold the root as the cuttings take hold and make new plants.  I have never worked with hydrangeas before so I am learning as I go.  That is one reason I made so many cuttings.  I can see which ones do the best, and what do they have in common.  I love this part of gardening.  Don't get me wrong, there is something about weeding that as hateful you would think it would be, there is something so satisfying.  Weeding and see sloppy gardens turned into neat, happy gardens.  Gardens with waves of mass plantings flowing into each other changing through the weeks and the seasons.  And some plants don't make it or come back after the winter or grow old and need to be replaced, so gardening is a constant flow of change through the light and dark.  Through the days turning into weeks into seasons into years.   Some gardens are fairly stable and set, mine are always a work in progress.

And Bob stayed by my side the entire day.  OK, he was breathing down my neck, literally with a tennis ball in his mouth.  Harry was drawn to the moist cool soil, but I was able to keep him out of the garden because he is so large and trying to sneak in involves so much crashing and loud noises as he dances his way to his heart's desire.  Ednarose on the other hand was so happy and excited and irritating and annoying as she dug holes, pulled up plants, fought with foliage and I tried to find a way to do what I needed to do without locking her up in the house.  I am not sure how we finally worked things out, but we did.  

After the day spent gardening I felt worn from the heat and constant activity, but I always feel stronger after a day working with plants.  It is like the plants share back more energy then you expend working with them.  And as always, I finally pulled myself away from the shade house and gardens to come into the house and clean up, doll up and go to the Opera House for the Doctor's Heart Fund Raiser.  

I put the top of the toy down and jumped in smelling clean from my mint soap and dolled up in makeup and clothes that made me feel good about myself and drove the couple of miles to the Grand Ole Opera House.  But there was no one there.  Hmmm, look at the tickets, oh, August 6th, tomorrow night.  Well, I do this a lot showing up a day or sometimes a week early.  Better early then missed or late.  So I went into the Rosemary Tree for a lovely dinner to go, quiche and baby green salad with Ms Denise's dressing.  Tom and Denise were there along with Lisa from the Opera House and Fred, the Chief of Police came in, in street clothes.  I had never seen him ever before in anything but his police uniform, and I swear as many times as I have talked to him, I would not have recognized him if Lisa had not said his name.  

So I drove home,  and put my dinner on a lovely china plate with a dragon fly and a a hydrangea bloom painted on it and enjoyed the quiet of the evening.  I love Friday evenings.  They feel like the in between of the week and the weekend.  In between places seem to have even more possibilities and magic then normal times and places.  The dogs and I are all happy and worn out.  We all had a good day.  Ednarose is so good, even as irritating as she can be, for the boys and me.  She and Bob spend most of the day playing.  Two Labradors, mouthing and jumping and climbing and playing.  Somehow their play seems so gentle and sweet.  And then when Bob has worn her out, she goes immediately to Harry and snuggles up to him.  He is so big, and she is still small and they spoon so sweetly.  She is such an angel when she sleeps.  Harry and Bob would quickly agree with me.  

Time for bed, to stretch out in my bed flexing muscles that have lifted, dug, pulled, snipped, poked and worked hard in the hot sweaty heat all day.  
The gardens show the attention, 
which only shows the gardens still needing attention even more blatantly.  
it will take time, 
never ending time to have these gardens.  
To love them and heal in them, 
and nurture them.  
Giving and receiving
sharing the space with each other
Life is good here at Labrun.


  1. The kids are beautiful and I hope you have air conditioning.

  2. It's like trying to breathe underwater without a snorkle outside these days.

  3. This is not my favorite time of year in the deep South. But there are things that have to be done outside--I just do them very early or very late.