Yesterday I pulled up my summer garden. Pulled it right up, and folded it neatly into bags, and put the debris out on the curb for the lawn crew. I harvested the last of the tomatoes, in various stages of greenness, and they will ripen quite happily on my counter. I picked the watermelon, which we will all enjoy while tailgating this weekend, and there was one giant hidden zucchini, enough for a couple of loaves of zucchini bread. Which, as I think we can all agree, is just cake, on top of which you then spread butter. Whatever. It’s a vegetable.
There were three vegetables I could not identify. I haven’t had the courage to cut them open and see what they were supposed to be. There’s a yellow thing which may or may not be a spaghetti squash, but it wasn’t growing anywhere near the spaghetti squash. There were two odd-shaped, green variegated things, one with sort of a crookneck, and one perfectly round. If you tell me they’re cucumbers, I’ll believe you. If you tell me they’re mutant watermelons, fine, I can totally see that. They mostly look like dragons’ eggs to me. I might leave them on the counter with the tomatoes for a while and see if they hatch.
I said I pulled up my garden and neatly tucked it away; the truth isn’t anything like that. My sweet little community garden patch, lovingly planted in April, had turned into a wild, overgrown tangle by July. Some of the things I had hoped to harvest were entirely obliterated by the aggressive squash plants; some were lost in the choking and unexpected cucumber vines; a few just withered in the blazing heat. I was drowning in zucchini, and could not believe the squash, and the tomatoes. Oh, the tomatoes. They’re possibly my favorite thing about summer, but they kept coming and coming and coming, faster than I could pick them, faster than I could share them. I’d feel pangs of guilt when one lingered too long on the vine and dropped to the ground, wasted. Every time I stopped long enough to pick one, I’d draw back an arm covered with mosquito bites. The wild garden grew, and grew, until it was taller than I am.
My summer, in a nutshell.
The day after the torrent of obscenity (mine) in the Party City parking lot, I showed up to visit two friends in Durham, and forced upon them overflowing bags of ripe vegetables, which I did not have the heart to cook. “Easy, there, KB,” they both said kindly. “You look, um, panicked. There’s no crying in vegetables. We’ll take them off your hands. It’ll be fine.”
And it is. I am done writing about the Summer of 2012, because can’t you see I’m totally over it?
Mostly. I’m getting there. But I’m still having a hard time talking about it.
See, when I was pulling up the mess yesterday, it took me over an hour just to wrangle everything into yard bags and sort out what was worth keeping and what wasn’t. It was hot, and it was the worst mosquito onslaught I’ve ever seen out there. I was wearing jeans and long sleeves and gloves and mosquito repellant, and when I came inside, I found I was perforated by an angry welter of bites. Both arms, sure, but the worst was all over my shoulder blades, where the vile creatures of the devil had bitten through my shirt. It was brutal. It was so much harder, and messier, and more uncomfortable than I thought it would be.
I was determined, though. Yesterday, for whatever reason, I decided to plant again. I went to Logan’s at lunch, and I bought broccoli, and kale, and beets, and cabbages, and cauliflower, and lettuce, and leeks. I was full of gardening metaphors, full of fall enthusiasm, full of optimism. As soon as I got home from work, I cleared the messy summer jungle away. And I planted for the fall.
This morning when I walked to work, the fall garden was sprightly and green and covered with morning dew; I was delighted. This afternoon I checked again- and every single plant was withered and languishing, dehydrated, and in peril. They’re not ready to be out there in the August sun. It’s still too intense. I rushed to water them again; if it would have helped, I’d have done a rain dance, or sung the sad little plants a get-well song, or something. As it is, I’m just going to have to worry, and keep adding water, and hope they toughen up enough to pull through. The strong ones will, for sure. They just needs some extra care and attention, until we’re out of the dog days.
I didn’t do most of the things on my summer list this year. No beach trips, because my vacation days were required elsewhere; no concerts at American Tobacco and Mordecai and Saxapahaw and Bynum, because I was pulled in too many other directions; no career development, because I don’t know how to get where I want to be next; no romance, because although I am always shy, I am never more so than when I don’t feel like I’m on solid ground anywhere; no projects, no home improvements, no music festivals, and very little frivolity, because I didn’t have the energy; a shortage of cookouts, limited porch time, an absence of sprinklers and sparklers and slip and slides and amusement parks. It was more of a summer of responsibility, of holding still, of waiting, of saving, of worrying, of planning. Of wishing.
I don’t think I’m the only person who’s felt this way, but I think we’re about to lurch forward, in a good way. It feels like this stuck season, this fallow time, is about to evolve into something much, much better; something with forward motion, and clearer skies, and adventure and possibility and direction and romance and blue skies and joy.
Two weeks to September, friends.