Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Can See Alaska from my Front Porch!

At least it seems like it.

My earliest visual memory is a snow taller than I am that blocks out the windows. Dark and ominous, it crowds out the sky. It's not the puffy white stuff that southern children know for a fleeting few minutes some winters. It's actually the winter of 1951 in Lafayette, Indiana, where my dad is a grad student and my mother survives in a converted Quonset hut with two kids under four.

Years later I realized that at nearly four I was pretty short and the snow on the Indiana plains that had drifted against our windows was probably only two feet deep, but from my vantage point seemed like a smothering wall of gray. Freud would probably say that's the source of my dislike for snow, and maybe he would be right.

Unless you live on a deserted tropical island (and good for you!) without TV, you know that the east coast is being hammered by a freaky winter storm. It looks like 8 - 10 inches on the porch railings, but the weather-guessers are predicting an additional 4 inches this afternoon. It's beautiful in a way, but has that smothering feeling that I remember from childhood.

I think southerners appreciate snow better when we get two quick inches that last until lunchtime, and then we can go back to normal life. This is not that snow. It will be a couple of days before a plow reaches the nearby main street and we will have to clear our own path to it. This is over-exertion, heart attack snow! This is definitely stay inside snow - altho the neighborhood kids will probably be out at first light to begin enjoying it!

On a brighter side, it will our first white Christmas in 40 years or more. (At that rate, it can also be my last!) Today will be the perfect day for baking cookies and maybe even bread. No shopping, no hurrying around. Just a snuggle-down day with the fire, a good book, and the man I love. What do you think about that, Freud?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere!

It's been very quiet in the garden for the past three weeks... because I cannot get there! After three years of official drought and one year that was "normal" rainfall-wise, 2009 has decided to be a wet year here in Central Virginia. I can't tell you how much we have gotten in the past three weeks - because I cannot walk into the yard (seriously!) to see the rain gauge. In November we had 8 inches before we left for Thanksgiving.

It rained while we were gone, but I was able to cut the front yard (which slopes more, so had more runoff), but I still cannot cut the back. In fact, we have had so much rain that water is still standing - after three, count them, three weeks. We have gone to the shed a couple of times where there was just no other choice, but we have left little foot sized ponds with every step! Every time it almost dries out, we get more rain. Tonight we are supposed to get freezing rain and snow. Normally snow is a good thing (for the garden) because it melts slowly and the ground is able to absorb a bigger percentage (not much runoff), but I am guessing that we are wet all the way thru the good dirt and down to the clay, so now I am worried about root rot!

Most plants can go two to three weeks without watering - they look pretty bad, but they sacrifice their leaves to save their structure and with a bit of water come right back. But wet ground is a "whole nuther" thing. Plants can only stand in water so long before they, too, drown. They need oxygen exchange in their roots and if the ground is just too wet, they cannot get it. The danger in my garden is exactly that. I have built up about eight inches of good rich humusy growing dirt over the native clay. Normally water fills in that eight inches of good dirt and then evaporates off. In these conditions it can't evaporate enough and the water may be standing underground on top of that clay causing root rot. Unfortunately, I won't know until spring.

So, all I can do is hope for sunshine soon and hope that most things have sufficient root structure to hold them thru this "crisis". So all of the photos are from prettier days! The one day I was able to get out to check on the pond, frogger was still there, so thought you might like to meet him. He still looks the same, only larger! Must have been a good summer for bugs.