I think we need to talk.
I realize you’re only two days old, and can’t be held too accountable for your actions at this point in your development. However, since we’re going to be together for another 363 days (unless you are a Leap Year, which I am too lazy to ascertain just now), I thought I would give you a heads-up about how you are supposed to comport yourself here in central Texas.
For one thing – and I don’t care to go mucking around in the past too much, that’s not what this is about – we don’t generally like it when you impose many, many gray days in a row. It’s not just that I’m on school break and might like to enjoy some OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR ONCE! This is not all about me. I believe I am speaking for many people in my region when I remind you that there is weather OTHER THAN GRAY DAMP CLOUDS AND A USELESS MIST.
Because if you are going to get into rotten weather, 2015, why don’t you put on your big meteorological pants and give us some real true rain? If you don’t, you may expect to go down in the record books as another horrible year for Texas agriculture, recreational life (they’ll really ream you out on that one), old trees, and our general quality of life. Is that how you want to be remembered? Is it?
I should be more patient. You’re new. It’s no secret around here that patience is not my strong suit, so I’m thinking you’ll just have to get used to it.
You see, I’m not the true gardener person who spends the winter browsing seed catalogues, starting tomato plants in the laundry room, and daydreaming about raised beds of heirloom lettuces and cauliflower. I’m the type of gardener who fails miserably at food because growing food requires discipline; who selects plants from the nursery more on whim than by design; and who basically wants a yard that doesn’t look like a yard. So for me, winter is boring.
Winter is that time of year when I clean difficult aspects of the house, take up hobbies like knitting, sewing, or making clay tips for the agave. With a fair amount of grumbling, I could add. This year I am also following through on my commitment to embark on painting all the interior trim, a spectacularly mad notion. Who wants to paint trim? More grumbling.
But here’s the thing, 2015: even in the dead of winter you are expected to let loose with some sunny days here and there. We realize our coldest weather comes with clear skies, and that’s okay. The weather people are saying that’s what you have up your sleeve for next week.
It’s just important that you figure out – sooner rather than later – that we central Texas folks expect random days of 60 degrees or better even in January. It kind of keeps us hopeful, it keeps our hearts beating. It keeps us smiling and saying “Good morning” to each other when we go for an early walk. This isn’t New England, you know, where people button up and scowl at one another in nasty weather. This is Texas. We try to be friendly.
Oh, I’ve seen enough years come and go to realize that you too will bring your share of ups and downs. Disasters will happen, wars will begin and end, celebrities will die, some of our own relatives will depart this mortal coil. New babies will enter to take their place – even now my grand-niece is awaiting the imminent arrival of her second daughter, Juniper. Time has a way of averaging all these things out in the course of a year, ten years, thirty. We can’t know what you will bring, and maybe that fact alone brings out the grumbly in me.
I do know that as soon as it stops raining, I’ll get started on Radical Cutbacks in the garden. There’s a large brush pickup scheduled for our neighborhood in a couple of weeks, and that will be the perfect opportunity to take out the magnolia by the back gate. I think it’s horrible for my arborist to have proposed such a thing, but now that I see where the oaks all around it want to go, I must capitulate. Maybe I’ll make a couple more magnolia-leaf wreaths in commemoration.
All the purple lantana will need to be cut back to the ground; so will the duranta, the esperanza, the Pride of Barbados. All the salvias will go, and on Valentine’s Day I’ll hack all the roses back to stubs. As I work I do my own version of garden daydreaming, wondering whether last year’s poppies will have seeded themselves; how many of the windflower seeds I threw down will bring us spring flowers; and whether I ought to thin the Mexican primroses – they have such takeover propensities.
I have a winter’s worth of gardening work to occupy me, that’s for sure. So I’m hoping you’ll do your part with at least a few days of pleasant weather.
One special request, if I may be so bold. Your predecessor, 2014, pulled a really nefarious stunt last year after the worst of winter should have been well past. Everything, and I mean everything had burst into leaf (look back at the photos of the beautiful waxy pomegranate leaves if you doubt me) when a very hard freeze struck. Okay, it wasn’t ten degrees as we’ve had before; but it was cold enough to take the pomegranate leaves and small branches; every single Texas mountain laurel bud; and even a few of the salvia the honeybees love so dearly. Rude, rude, rude.
So if I may, I wish to request all hard freezes be scheduled for this month and next, with maybe a light freeze or two in March for tradition’s sake.
I wish you all the best in your endeavors, really I do. It can’t be easy to bear the pressure of being a whole new year, all those empty calendar days and breathtaking unknowns you have to hold for us. I’d like to say I’ll do my part in making 2015 a successful year; I’ve read plenty of refrigerator magnets that remind all comers that life is what you make it and happiness is a choice and all that nonsense.
But just read the name of this blog. How cooperative do you think I’m capable of being?
And remember, 362 days from now, when all the newspapers, radio and TV stations, and internet outlets are reviewing the triumphs and tragedies of 2015, it’s not The Unruly Gardener they’ll be talking about. They’ll be talking about you.
Now get after it.
PS: By way of friendly gestures, I followed an impulse and made a calendar about you. I imposed a copy on all our immediate family members – imagine, now they’ll have to think about both of us every day!