rain

Maybe having brushes with 3 tropical storms and a tropical system, but I cannot remember a year that I have seen so much just general rainfall.

019476AB-9F3F-49D1-8A82-EFD12B1ED753

I do not watch news programs, nor do I subscribe to the local newspaper. So I have no idea what the cumulative rainfall is. It does not really matter. I live in a coastal town so mostly the ground is sand. We have trees so we have leaves and pine needles that fall, decompose and form a thin layer of topsoil. Subdivisions and developments truck in soil to make lawns, landscape crews mulch at least once a year. So not actually on the beachfront there is soil. Not rich, it’s sandy, but soil.

38EA7CB4-0DE4-4DA6-BB97-59E6F1084B80

Still, the rain drains and soaks into the ground within an hour. Not much standing water so thankfully some areas have less mosquitoes. But the area where my neighborhood is was once a watershed.

D4F9CE4E-AE1B-4901-9841-B13343E5B3E1

Since we are also within 10 miles of the Cape Fear river everything from here drains there.

4A6D7D83-EA72-4697-8A7F-E7B70AFA926E

I have way overplanted my backyard. In maybe 20 x 80 feet I have three fig trees, two Althea, two hydrangea, a gardenia, two (baby) paw paw trees, a Daphne, beautyberry bush, pussywillows, tansy, 3 lemongrass, asiatic lilies, penstemon, wisteria, passiflora, angel trumpet, old man’s beard, butterfly weed, butterfly bush, iris, daylilies, Black-eyed Susan, echinacea, mint, rosemary, iron weed, elderberry, star anise, Carolina allspice, Vitex, clethra, daisies, firecracker flower and invasive monarda. It’s really hard to walk around back there. I have a few pots with herbs, tomato plants and some okra.

FBE45BD7-A675-41E0-8805-E9C84FBF70D3

I have seen two rainbows this week. One a few days ago and one this morning. Because they are a promise, seeing them always makes me cry which is strange. Gratitude I guess. Relief maybe.

2A770159-ADFF-4DD2-B646-E79B527108FF

Because it is July, and the rain, most plants are loaded with blooms, and bees and butterflies. I have often wondered where do they go when it rains.

AE96B1D3-19A3-4C93-B2BB-842471C5FC40

Wherever it is, they always reappear when the sun comes out and the flowers dry. And the spiders. Especially the ones on the water spout.

7752BF8E-408A-44E6-80CE-3D6C898A2324

E61107F8-86C3-4E1F-8303-0328D64C06C8

E831AD15-037B-46D0-B2CE-F456604010EB

chance, luck, coincidence

I don’t believe in that. When I was a little girl filled with mythical romantic fairy tales I did. I’m not jaded. We have turns of events in life that surprise us, none more humbling than as the result of things we contrived ourselves that failed. Or those that became real.

Maybe that’s why I cling to nature. It has its own rhythm. What happens there always has a reason. So even though this might not be their 7th year we have an abundance of newly hatched cicadas. Now. Not from May or June, now.

They crawl up out of the earth where the previous generation laid eggs and they grew into grubs. They crawl up tree trunks where they split their skins and emerge, these beauIMG_0534.JPGtiful googly-eyed insects 1-2 inches long and make a deafening song until they become ant fodder at their life’s end.

These abandoned exoskeletons are stuck all over different trees. They are not attractive larva. You seldom see them before they are empty shells. But this is their metamorphosis. Probably not painful so they  are not reluctant to go through this process, unlike people who resist change almost constantly. Until at least a certain age where we have either built up enough strength and resilience to survive it, with senses of humor, or indifference that hardens and encases us like the abandoned shells the katydids leave.

Caterpillars are the same. I can’t imagine snuggling into a cocoon is anything uncomfortable. But I wonder, are the caterpillars awake when they begin and complete their beautiful transformation to a butterfly?

IMG_0526.JPGanother swallowtail butterfly finishing off a stem of fennel

One of my favorite places to volunteer is a public garden here. It is 7 acres on property that at one time was a private elementary school. Several different sorts of gardens have been developed: native plants, veterans memorial, forest, herb and kitchen, children’s, rain gardens and several others. Each week stalwart souls gather in unimaginable heat and humidity to sweat among the weeds and flowers for 2-3 hours doing various chores. One of my favorites is weeding. There is something so gratifying about pulling a clump of nut sedge or chamberbitter or smilax root and leaving loose rich soil for the phlox, cone flowers, maypops and others. The garden spiders start quite small, and late in the summer become like this that I straightened from pulling weeds to see

 

IMG_0532.JPGharmless garden spider unless you are a fly

What I guess I marvel most at is that there are few anomalies in nature. Oak trees grow acorns, not cherries. Spiders eat flies, moths and other insects. Each living thing in the natural world has its own purpose and lives to fulfill it. But then there are no freedoms either. They do what they do because it is what they were created to do. We people were given freedom. Free will. A brain that we use to function, or allow to confuse us .

And then there are storms. Four actually, in the Atlantic right now. Each one is steered and guided by so many factors, the temperature of the ocean, wind and water currents, high or low pressure systems in the atmosphere. Like this one, named Florence

unnamed.png(https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at1+shtml/?#wcontents)Natl Hurricane Ctr

This may not have my little NC coastal town’s name on it but we are in the “cone of possibility”. Not strange. This time of year is the peak season for these storms. And we are told how and when to prepare in case it comes too close. There are no hurricane shelters here because no place will be safe.

I lived in different places in Florida from 2004-2006, 2005 being the year Katrina hit New Orleans and there were so many named storms that year they exhausted the alphabet and began over with AA, BB, CC. The season went long into December.

So last year was not a good year, either, with Harvey, Irma, Maria. I guess this year is catching up from having no storms in August. Maybe it’s better to get them all over with in one week.

Assuming that is, that we will.

proxy.duckduckgo.jpg

So while we batten down the hatches against whatever may or may not come, enjoy the last drops of summer. Notice the turning of the leaves. The bite in the air that is a harbinger of Autumn.

 

“Ms.” Gardener??

So this Master Gardener program began almost 9 weeks ago. My brains are so full of information on annuals, biennials, perennials, grasses, fruits, vegetables, fungal diseases, bacterial diseases, blights, beneficial and pest-y insects, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, you name it, in these 9 weeks of intensive classes of 6 hours per week I am in gardening overload.

I have always enjoyed gardening. If you had told me at the beginning of this herbal odyssey I would feel this way I’d have laughed myself silly. It’s like gorging at Thanksgiving. The feeling’s just the same except my head wants to explode, not my waistline.

No idea when or if I will ever use this information. Maybe it’s crammed in there in such a way as to come through as second nature. I’ll look at an azalea leaf and know it is a rust disease, not lacewing insects. Or see little raised tunnels in my yard and know they are not really tiny moles but mole crickets. I will know the small, round shiny-gray things are ground pearl, an insect for which there is no remedy except to dig up and completely replace the sod, no small (or inexpensive) feat.

There are more varieties of oak that I could ever have imagined, and most wasps are beneficial. (I don’t guess that applies to yellow jackets as well).

I won’t know, right off the bat, if you have your soil tested and it has a low ph of 4.7 what proportions of fertilizer it will need. Clemson University can tell you. I won’t likely be able to say if a camellia variety is a japonica or sasanqua, but I know they are both beautiful flowering shrubs. I know more than I did at the outset of this class, much more, I just have to integrate it into my current knowledge.

So it’s hard, if I even actually pass the course, thinking of myself as a master anything, much less a master gardener. Even so as with most everything else, I will not ever know it all, at least I certainly hope not.

What fun could that possibly be?