Gardening in a dry, new world

We may need to break through some emotional callouses to leave the recent gardening disappointments behind us.

Will it always be this difficult? Why bother? Is the potential reward worth the risk? Should I put myself through that again?

In so many ways, it feels like trying to date after having your heartbroken more than once?

The drought of 1976-1977 was short-lived. My own life was new and there were decades of life ahead to forget the shared baths, bricks at the back of the toilet and signs directing us “if it’s yellow, leave it mellow.”

The good thing is that my generation grew up knowing not to let the water run when you’re brushing your teeth and not to use the hose to remove leaves from the sidewalk.

The drought of 2011-2017 is still very fresh in my mind. I thought the disappearance of what came to be called the ridiculously resilient ridge ( that kept rain from reaching the West Coast mean a reprieve from drought — at least until all of my hair had gone gray. My garden was still half alive at that point. I celebrated by buying six-packs of plants and rejoiced that rain and flowers would again be part of life as we know it.

This most recent run of dry luck feels like another bludgeon to keep all optimism hidden away in the secret place of our hearts.

I can attest to how easily apathy can lead a woman to the sunken spots in the sofa.

In summer 2021, my excuse to neglect my yard was the relentless sun, as well as a very real fear of heatstroke. In winter and spring I was busy with back-to-back international programs through my work.

Yet, at some point you need to decide whether living a little is better than wasting another year waiting for things to be like they were 10 years ago.

Several weekends ago I attended a backyard barbecue hosted by Samantha and Jeff. Their oldest son is headed to college and there’s no better way to say adios than with catered Mexican food. Our friend Maggie seems to always be in an upbeat mood and on this day she was eager to chat about her recent garden achievements. I write about gardening (and other things), which makes me the perfect person to share in her garden joy.

Maggie has put her COVID time to good use, despite excessive heat, inflation and the malaise of cumulative circumstances. I’ve been addicted to TV and working too much, while Maggie has carved garden beds out of tired, hard soil. Some plants died, she shared cheerfully. Yet, over time she learned so much about drip irrigation and soil improvement.

I couldn’t help but wonder how she avoided those inserts in our water bills telling us it is our civic duty to shower less and let our plants die.

She has a right to brag and share her happiness. She’s an inspiration.

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