Meandering through a lush summer pandemic

Meandering through a lush summer pandemic

Container planting is a little love inside a small area. I’ve collected planters big and small at yard sales and thrift stores. I have loads of pastel McCoy pots, as well as sturdy white USA ones.

When I’m ready to plant (usually the beginning of June), I gather up annuals and mush them up in a planter to look pretty. Garden purists are groaning at my use of “mush” in this instance. I never plan out the looks of my container plantings; I just go with what looks appealing.

As I slipped through the aisles of the greenhouse this year, mask firmly in place, I found some beautiful shades of yellow and lavender blooms. I had just painted my round, lovingly worn picnic table the color Electric Lime, and it seemed incredibly electric as I gazed on it. My husband chuckled at me as I searched for a new umbrella for the table, and after I failed to find one, he surprised me by fixing the black and white striped one that had been my favorite. I slipped some lavender petunias in a terracotta pot, and the table came alive.

Sunday afternoon I went outside on my patio to sit for a spell, and to my horror my containers looked like they were trying to survive a desert hellscape. I had watered them the day before, but the leaves were crunchy and forlorn, and I went inside to bring water and salvage the smaller pots that had suffered.

The sun is incredibly intense on the patio during the day. As I watered them, I could hear my mom in my head saying, “Never water during the afternoon sun; only water in the mornings or late evenings so the soil soaks up the moisture.” Sorry Mom, but this was a rescue mission. They perked up quickly.

I love winter and her snow and cold, cozy fires and blankets to snuggle under. But there is something about this summer that has me enjoying even the hottest of temperatures. I traipse outside to my haven, my front porch, and sit quietly in my pajamas as the sun begins to heat the slight morning chill. Deep summer and her dewy mornings filled with lush blooms and transcendent neon leaves, I can’t seem to soak up enough of her energy into my bones.

The coronavirus and its ensuing sense of abnormal days have left us depleted, on edge, and maybe this jolt of summer goodness is what was needed.

But the specter of the coronavirus is never far away, and she cannot be placed on a shelf just because we choose not to see her. She’s here, stealthily making her way through our communities. My mask and my hygiene practices will stay.

I will wear my masks made from Mom’s old vintage materials into local stores even if the odd looks and don’t-you-have-enough-faith stares continue to come my way. Life does move forward, but just like the beautiful canopy of deepest summer, Mother Nature reminds us not to take her for granted. The sun still shrivels and dries up plants unless we take caution and care to water them for protection.

COVID-19 and its continuing world-wide pandemic has caused us to change with the times. We might go out for takeout, but we don’t yet eat inside. Backyard gatherings with noncommunal food has become the norm, and we enjoy being able to visit with our friends at a distance. Letting our guard down when the numbers are at their worst would be a critical mistake.

Our grandson is due to be born at the end of summer, a season in which he’s grown safely inside his mama’s womb during this lush heat. I want to be able to travel to see him safely, not in a world where we’ve decided to throw caution out the window. I want to see my next son-in-law arrive in a country that shows how we care for one another, to join the family and have everyone intact and healthy. I want to travel south to see our daughter and son-in-law’s new home and swim in their pool, and I want others to instead of asking why we don’t go, to remember why we shouldn’t right now.

And while I sit on my front porch and fervently wish these things into existence, I’d ask us to remember that using best practices during a pandemic is a group project. When we work together, we end up with the best grade, and right now we’re failing because some of us don’t want to do the work.

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