“I have some flowers blooming in my bed of death,” Kris told me on the phone. “Oh, yeah? I have nothing blooming in a whole yard of death,” I replied. Nothing like mid-August in Kansas as we approach the death rattle of a particularly arduous summer.
I start the garden each March with the best of intentions, but I’ve learned to accept that come July sometime, I will abandon all efforts. When the hellish trilogy of Kansas summers envelopes me — chiggers, poison ivy and repeated 100-degree days — I get to the point where I won’t even walk to the vegetable bed to harvest the beans. Who doesn’t love fresh green beans, but is it worth several sleepless nights of chigger invasion to eat them? And it seems too incongruous to spray myself down with poison to pick organic vegetables.
This summer, when we slow-motioned through what seemed like six weeks of depressing weather forecasts (e.g. 100 degrees everyday forever), keeping trees alive and the foundation of the house from cracking by spraying the water hose at them took precedence. Now I’m left with all this death around me, even usually hardy plants such as the take-it-all hostas are suffering.
But all is not lost: the heat-loving sunflowers and osage orange trees go forth and prosper, and the waves of cicadas pour over and under our days, reminding us that August has its blossom, song and big green brain-balls of wonder.