Gardening in a dry new world

We may need to overcome some emotional calluses to put recent gardening disappointments behind us.

Will it still be so difficult? Why bother? Is the potential reward worth the risk? Should I go back to it again?

In many ways is it like trying to date someone after being heartbroken more than once?

The 1976-77 drought was short-lived. My own life was new, and there were decades of life ahead of me to forget the shared baths, the bricks at the bottom of the toilets, and the signs telling us “if it’s yellow, leave it soft.”

The good thing is that my generation grew up knowing not to let the water run while 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 was called the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ridiculously_Resilient_Ridge) that kept rain from reaching the west coast meant a reprieve from the drought – at least until until all my hair had turned gray. My garden was still half alive at that time. I celebrated by buying six plant packs and rejoiced that rain and flowers were once again part of life as we know it.

This latest round of dry luck feels like another baton to keep all optimism hidden in the secret place of our hearts.

I can vouch for how easily apathy can drive a woman to the sunken spots of the sofa.

In the summer of 2021, my excuse for neglecting my yard was the relentless sun, along with a very real fear of heatstroke. In winter and spring, I was busy with back-to-back international programs through my job.

Yet at some point you have to decide if it’s better to live a little than to waste another year waiting for things to go back to the way they were 10 years ago.

Several weekends ago I attended a barbecue hosted by Samantha and Jeff. Their eldest son is heading off to college and there’s no better way to say adios than with Mexican food. Our friend Maggie always seems to be in an upbeat mood and that day she was eager to talk about her recent accomplishments in the garden. I write about gardening (and other things), which makes me the perfect person to share the joy of their garden.

Maggie has put her COVID time to good use, despite the excessive heat, inflation and unease of cumulative circumstances. I was addicted to television and overworked, while Maggie carved garden beds in hard, tired soil. Some plants died, she shared happily. Yet, over time, she learned a lot about drip irrigation and soil improvement.

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

She has the right to boast and share her happiness. She is a source of inspiration.