Crazy Plant Lady

’Tis the season when I expend massive amounts of energy on my garden.

“Oh, is it planting time there already?” you ask.

Well… kinda, but not really.  I’ve planted a few seeds, but it’s too early for most things.

“Oh; then you’re digging and preparing your garden?  I could see where that would be a lot of work.”

Well, no; not yet.  It’s still too wet.

“So exactly what is taking so much energy…?”

Well… um… my own idiocy.

Every day I hurry out to eagerly examine the garden.  Are any new crocuses blooming?  Are the cherry buds maybe just a bit fatter than yesterday?  Why are my poor rhododendrons looking so yellow?

I rush off to the Rhododendron Society and pick the brains of every member who doesn’t flee as soon as they realize I’m vectoring toward them.  I pore over obscure sites on the internet.  Organic fertilizer tailored to acid-loving plants:  applied.  Bark mulch:  check.  Could it be a magnesium deficiency?  I sprinkle on some Epsom salts.  Maybe the soil pH is too high.  Sulphur to the rescue!  It can’t be iron deficiency; our soil is red with iron oxide.  But maybe a little foliar feeding of ferrous sulphate would help…

Then I hover.  Maybe they look a bit better today.

But no.  It’s only a trick of the light.  *sigh*

The next day, same thing.  Maybe they’re a little greener now?

I don’t know why I do it.  I’ve been gardening all my life, and I know better.  I have NEVER seen a plant respond to fertilizer overnight.  But that’s not from a lack of effort on my part.  With all the emotional energy I’ve been pouring into these plants, they should be surging toward the sky like Jack’s beanstalk.

I try equally hard to alter the climate through sheer psychic (or is that ‘psycho’?) effort.  I stare at the sky, fists clenched by my sides, willing spring to arrive.  Snow is not allowed!  The clouds must dissipate!  The sun must come out!

Our tomato and pepper seedlings have just emerged indoors, and I’m equally obsessed.  The light in the south window isn’t bright enough – they need to be outside.  But it’s only 5 degrees Celsius, and that’s not warm enough for tomatoes and peppers.  So they can go outside in the afternoon when it’s warm, as long as I remember to bring them in at sunset.  And when will they get their second set of leaves?  Tomorrow?  This evening?  NOW?!?

It’s lucky I never had children.  The poor kids would be scarred for life when they awakened in the middle of the night to find me leaning over their cribs with a measuring tape, checking to see whether they’d grown since I’d put them to bed a few hours ago.

Fortunately plants are oblivious to my antics; and in another month I’ll have so much garden work I’ll be far too tired to obsess over a rhododendron’s precise shade of green.

But until then… maybe I should check that rhodo one more time this afternoon.

Just in case…

It’s spring, hooray! Must… obsess… over… garden… now…

My poor yellowing rhododendron. Maybe I’m giving it performance anxiety.


We have puddles! *does happy dance*

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’re undoubtedly studying that first sentence and trying to figure out where to find the double entendre.  That’s a valid and downright laudable reaction.  If you find one, I hope you’ll share it – I do love a good double entendre!  But that wasn’t actually my intention (for a change).

No; this post is in celebration of spring.  It’s my favourite time of year – crocuses and tulips and daffodils peek out, the grass turns green, the birds come home, it snows two feet… you know; the usual stuff.

Back in arid Calgary, spring puddles are fleeting – the snow seems to evaporate instead of melting.  But here on the coast we have good old-fashioned puddles that bring back delightful childhood memories.

I grew up on a prairie farm where the terrain was dead-flat for miles.  That and our heavy clay/gumbo soil made it prime puddle territory.  Venice had nothing on us.  I remember riding the school bus along our country road and looking out at water as far as the eye could see, neatly divided into a one-mile grid by the raised road allowances that were the highest point on the prairies (and only a foot or two higher than the water level).

Every kid had a pair of rubber boots:  the taller the boots, the better.  Puddle-wading was both art and science.  We learned about refraction early – the place you thought you were stepping wasn’t always where your foot ended up.  The penalty for that was a boot full of icy water, which didn’t dampen our enthusiasm at all.  It was a sport to see how far we could wade into a puddle before we filled our boots.

We also had a small inflatable dinghy that we could row across our puddles (we had serious puddles on the farm).  And there were always ditches full of water that required all sorts of digging in the mud to produce complex drainage trenches and dams.

Sometimes it turned cold enough to freeze the puddles hard.  That was prime ice-skating:  glassy-smooth, with grass and fallen leaves locked below the surface as if cast in crystal.  But it was always tricky to determine whether the ice was strong enough to bear our weight… which brings to mind another favourite sound:  a slow ominous creak followed by the buzzing crack of ice failing, usually accompanied by squeals and splashing.

I still love going out in the early morning when temperatures are below freezing.  Overnight some of the puddle-water seeps into the ground, leaving a white fragile ice shell floating over empty air.  There’s nothing like the sharp hollow sound it makes when stepped on – it’s almost as addictive as popping bubble wrap!

At 52 years old, you’d think I’d have developed enough dignity to leave the puddles alone; but nope.  Not even close.  I’m still incapable of walking by a shell of ice without breaking it, and last week I went out and bought myself a pair of tall rubber boots that’ll make me the envy of every kid in town.

I’m going out to play in the puddles now… how about you?

P.S. Here on the coast I’ve discovered a ‘new-to-me’ type of spring ice: long silky filaments that form as water is pushed up out of sodden soil into freezing temperatures. How cool is that? (Literally.) ;-)

P.S. Here on the coast I’ve discovered a ‘new-to-me’ type of spring ice: long silky filaments that form as water is pushed up out of sodden soil into freezing temperatures. How cool is that? (Literally.) 😉


Winter Is Cancelled Due To Lack Of Interest

Well, the groundhogs have spoken, and I choose to believe them even though their accuracy rate has only been about 37% in the past. (It’s still better than random chance, which is 33% according to an internet article I found… but then again, statistics are made up on the spot about 80% of the time.)

Still, we clever humans only manage to forecast the weather accurately about 40% of the time around here, so the groundhogs aren’t doing too badly.

You have to wonder about the science of weather prediction when a burrowing rodent is as likely to be right as a high-tech computer, but it’s really not the computer’s fault. In our crazy little microclimate around Calgary, our weather guys and gals can predict pretty much anything and get it both right and wrong in the same day. So why shouldn’t a groundhog have a go at it?

And speaking of ‘having a go at it’, I was disillusioned to discover that Groundhog Day isn’t the innocent G-rated celebration we’ve been led to believe. Nope, it’s all about sex. Apparently groundhogs aren’t taking their weather-related responsibilities seriously; they’re just scoping out the chicks. I feel so betrayed. *sigh*

Our two most famous Canadian groundhogs, Shubenacadie Sam and Wiarton Willie, disagreed on whether we’re going to get more winter. Nova Scotia’s Sam says it’s over, and Ontario’s Willie insists otherwise. So if you live in Ontario, you’d better keep your willie warm – it’s gonna be nippy out there.

But we redneck westerners are instinctively suspicious of anything that comes out of Ontario. Them gummint folks ain’t to be trusted. In fact, if you scroll down to the ‘Death and further scandals’ section on Wiarton Willie’s Wiki (try saying that five times fast) you can see why we weally wonder about Willie.

So out here, we consulted our own oracle: Balzac Billy, AKA ‘The Prairie Prognosticator’.

Balzac is a small town just north of Calgary, and for those of you who are thinking, “Wait a minute; groundhogs don’t live around there”, well… you’re right. Balzac Billy is a guy in a groundhog suit.

Which raises a few unwholesome questions if you consider the rodents’ true motivation for leaving their burrows; but what the hell. The search for female company will bring most males out of their burrows. If a guy can attract the ladies despite being dressed as a giant rodent, more power to him.

But back to the weather forecast. Billy agreed with Sam: Winter is over here. And I think he may be right – winter never really got started this year (unless you count the snow we had last August, but we’re trying to forget that).

And anyhow, even if Billy and Sam are wrong, it could be worse. Winnipeg’s groundhog died last week, so it looks as though they’re stuck with winter forevermore. At least they’re used to it out there.

And groundhogs or not, we still have Environment Canada to give us all a healthy dose of delusional dreams.

What’s the weather like where you are?

Snow Fun

For those who weren’t privy to my whining on Facebook this weekend, we just had a foot of snow:

may snow

Eight inches after the first twelve hours. Drinks on the deck are postponed until further notice.

It’s depressing to get snow in May, but it’s not unheard-of here in Calgary.  And I’d rather have it now than in the middle of August… which has also happened:

I built this guy on August 20, 1992.

I built this guy on August 20, 1992.

Aside from griping of epic proportions, Calgarians have more or less ignored the snow and gotten on with life.  After all, we know it’ll probably snow again in a couple of weeks – it’s practically a tradition to get snow on the May long weekend.  But it’s okay, because snowbanks are a great place to keep your beer nice and frosty while you’re camping.

(Yes, we’re Canadian.  We push our lawn chairs into the snowbanks and sit around the campfire drinking cold beer on the long weekend regardless of the weather.)

The funny part is that the snow was preceded by rain, and it was the rain that totally messed people up.  You’d think it had never rained before.  Drivers bumbled through red lights, turned from the wrong lane, inexplicably slowed to a crawl in the middle of the road, and generally made me wish for a crate of Zombie Bullets and a Gatling gun.  I don’t know what it is about rain that makes Calgary drivers so painfully stupid, but my best guess is that IQ points are water-soluble.  Lucky it doesn’t rain very often here.

Someone once said, “Marriage is all about give and take:  Give blame; take credit”, so I blamed Hubby for the snow.

In the first place, he fired up the motorcycle a few weeks ago, which is a sure-fire way to make it snow.  Then he started talking about outdoor archery tournaments, and our fate was sealed.

I did my best to trick the weather into thinking it was okay to warm up:  I left my snow tires on the car and the snow shovels by the back door.  But it wasn’t enough.  Hubby’s bad juju trumped my feeble efforts.

Interestingly, the only time Hubby ever has bad luck with weather is here at home.  When we’re travelling, he’s a good-luck charm.  We often visit Vancouver Island in the middle of winter, and its coastal winter climate dictates rain, rain, and more rain.  But any time we’ve gone, the weather turns nice as soon as we get there.

We even went to Tofino in the middle of December:  prime storm-watching time.  But not for us.  It was raining a bit when we got there in the late afternoon.  The next morning the sun came out, wispy clouds floated across a blue, blue sky, and the rufous hummingbirds came out to dance a ballet on the sunbeams.  It was Disney as far as the eye could see.

“Storm-watching” at Tofino.

“Storm-watching” at Tofino.

And speaking of Disney, yesterday I discovered the true culprit behind our dump of snow.  Apparently the morning of the big snowfall, one of my employees’ little granddaughters stared out at the white-coated world before turning wide eyes up to her mother.

“Mommy!” she exclaimed, “My frost magic must have leaked out while I was sleeping!”

So now I know who’s to blame, but she’s so darn cute I’d feel like an ogre if I did.  And that’s snow fun.

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P.S. If you want to connect on Facebook, the link is over in the right-hand column of the page.  I promise I don’t usually whine… but you’ll be subjected to whatever silliness falls out of my head.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.